Parking in Boston is a nightmare. Is Haystack the solution? The new app, which went online this week, lets people reserve soon-to-be-vacated spaces on Boston streets for $3 apiece — most of that paid to the person leaving the space. Some call it an innovative fix for an age-old problem. Others see it as a way for tech-savvy drivers to auction off a public resource. The concept has sparked a raucous debate, with the likes of Mayor Marty Walsh weighing in. (He hates it.)
Globe Opinion collected arguments from both sides. Add yours to the comments, or tweet them @GlobeOpinion.
BTD will continue to evaluate any and all systems that may infringe upon the public's right to equal access and/or those that may artificially inflate the cost of spaces on Boston roadways and in municipal off-street parking lots, and BTD will take appropriate measures to prohibit any such app that is determined to do so.
Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston
I think it represents progress and something that we shouldn't be afraid of. I'm not sure what the downside is . . .There are two kinds of cities, those that embrace it and those that try and stop it. And sometimes we try to be both.
Former City Councilor Mike Ross, from BetaBoston
Worried about #Haystack. We get into fights over shoveled-out spots. You tell someone you paid for a public space & it's knife fight city.— Amy Derjue (@derjue) July 16, 2014
It’s a product that could well bring out the worst in people. Yet Haystack is mostly a symptom of a deeper problem: The number of people who want to park along the street in Boston far exceeds the number of curbside spaces available. What the city needs is a broader conversation about how it manages street parking — a conversation that’s less about Haystack than about all the policies that discourage the turnover of existing spaces. Globe Editorial
@ScottKirsner what's next, an app where I can charge someone to use the public tennis courts by my house? I say everyone boycott Haystack…— Dan Vidal (@ladiVnaD) July 18, 2014
The problem with these apps is that they take a public good and, rather than improve it, simply resell it, making access easier for the wealthy and digitally connected, and quite frankly worse for everyone who doesn't feel like giving the Baltimore startup a few cents every time they roll up to the Boston Common (the app encourages those leaving a location to wait a few minutes extra so that another Haystacker can swoop in to the spot).
Michael Morisy, Beta Boston
Whats the diff. between Haystack app and me standing in a parking spot and not letting a driver in unless they pay me? (besides a fight)— Steve Annear (@steveannear) July 15, 2014
Haystack may seem like dirty business, but our precious city is filled with plenty of dirty businesses. Essentially, the app lets you pay more money than you have to for something that is in high demand. Don't we do a similar thing every time we make a purchase from a place like Ace Ticket for example? Pretty sure that company has its logo plastered all over Friendly Fenway.
Perry Eaton, BDCwire