How to park in downtown Boston 3x per week
June 23, 2023 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I may be starting a new job in Boston, near the Financial District / Quincy Market / Downtown Crossing. I will need to drive 3 days per week, on weekdays. What's the best way to get reliable parking?

I'll be arriving at about 9:00 on weekdays. Is there so much empty office space that I'll be able to just pull up to a commercial garage and park? Can I rely on that? Or do I have to get a reserved parking space, even though I only need it three days per week?

If I need a reserved space, how do I find one? Googling for "parking garages in downtown Boston" yields a hellscape of parking scam aggregator websites, all wanting to offer me the best deal. It's hard to find the websites of the parking garages themselves. It's even worse than searching for a hotel.

So, to reiterate: (1) what's the general lay of the land for parking in downtown Boston, and (2) how do I get a reserved space in some garage near my new office?

Oh, and if you know anything about pricing, that'd be great, too.
posted by Winnie the Proust to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (14 answers total)
Sorry if you've already considered this, but would it work to park near an outlying T station and then ride the T downtown?
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:56 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]

2nd-ing split pea soup. Parking in Boston, especially coming in later than 7:30am, is incredibly difficult and expensive, if you can even find a spot. Park-and-Ride is the best option.

Option “ B” is to ask your new boss their recommendations for parking. Your future work mates will already know about the best options for places, times, and costs.
posted by Silvery Fish at 10:00 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]

You can reserve spaces at a lot of downtown Boston garages, including Zero Post Office Square, 1 Federal St., and others in that neighborhood via SpotHero. Personally I've never had problems with SpotHero although I've only used it for event parking, not weekday financial district garage parking.

If you can afford garage parking, I personally don't find parking in Boston any worse than driving in Boston. Parking near the T is not necessarily a better bet - a lot of those parking lots also fill up early and the T is not exactly on its best behavior at the moment.
posted by mskyle at 10:15 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]

Your location description is a little broad, so depending on where specifically you're going to be: Garage at Post Office Square if you're in the Financial District, Dock Square Parking Garage if you're near Quincy Market, Pi Alley Parking Garage if you're in Downtown Crossing.

Garage at Post Office Square can also work for Downtown Crossing, but it's a bit longer walk than Pie Alley.

Expect $40/day.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:16 AM on June 23

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far.

In response to the questions from SplitPeaSoup and Silvery Fish: I think parking on the perimeter and taking the T in isn't a great option. I'll be near Arlington Center, which I think implies driving to Alewife, parking there, and taking the Red Line in. I've heard terrible things about the Alewife garage, and I don't think I'd be able to reliably get a parking space there at 8:10 AM. But maybe I should consider it?
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:52 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]

I'm with mskyle - it's not as bad as others are making it out to be, and it's gotten even better after COVID. The big difference is cost - if it's not an issue to you, or your company is reimbursing, etc., I'd drive over taking the T.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:55 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]

As someone who currently has to drive between East Arlington and the Observatory Hill area of Cambridge at rush hour for Reasons: if you drive in you are going to have a VERY slow, VERY frustrating drive. Basically everything headed towards the Charles from Arlington gets gridlocky once you get over Alewife Brook or the Mystic River. (As of EOD Monday I won't have to do this anymore and I can't wait!) Before this I had to go from Observatory Hill to MGH at rush hour, which was equally dreadful, and sometimes to the Rowes Wharf area, which was diabolical. I have tried lots of alternates and they are all bad.

If you will be near Arlington Center, I would recommend taking the 67 bus to Alewife, the 77 to Harvard, or the 80 from Arlington Center to Lechmere and taking the T in. (The 80 to Lechmere will probably be the quickest, because Red Line gonna Red Line.) You could also take the 77 to Porter and then take the commuter rail from there to North Station.
posted by rednikki at 11:32 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]

Former resident of the area ... even taking a daily Uber to Alewife would beat driving downtown both for time and money. If a bike commute down the Minuteman is possible, saving Uber for bad weather, that's the best option.
posted by Dashy at 1:14 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Congrats on the new job!

I've never found finding parking during weekdays to be cost efficient, and usually took the subway. I feel like the first couple days you have to do this, you consider taking a taxi or uber in, so that you show up at a consistent time, and get a sense for routes and traffic. Befriend the security folks at your building, and your office manager types - they are most likely to have the line on parking options, if any are available.

For what you'll spend on gas/parking/wear and tear on car, you could buy a very nice ebike that would let you zip past traffic, assuming that mobility option is available to you.

Others above suggest routes, from Arlington Center you might consider taking the 80, 95, or 87 into Lechmere or Sullivan Station. Biking to a transit hub is also dead simple down Mass Ave or along the bike path.

Best of luck on your new commute!
posted by enfa at 1:25 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Bike or walk to Alewife from the center. Faster actually than most other options at rush hour. The minuteman bikeway is a rail trail that goes directly from the center to the subway.

I thought I saw a parking lot on the new green line extension to somerville but my google fu fails

There is a bus (350) that goes from the center to Alewife. The garage is generally fine, fills up early. The guy that tried to drive off the top level was an inconvenience mostly and all repaired. I don't park there but am through it often and it's fine.
posted by sammyo at 1:31 PM on June 23

Not to be argumentative but the 80/87 are the canonical example of a "local", been on both and they wind through Somerville making a stop at every stop just in case someone may be just getting out of their house... ;-)

There is a very small lot at the commuter rail at the West Medford commuter rail station, it's about a mile from Arlington center on rt 60.
posted by sammyo at 2:29 PM on June 23

Response by poster: I don't have a place to park my car in Arlington. I guess I should have made that clear. That's why I'm asking about parking in Boston.

While it's possible I could find a place to park in Arlington, and get from that location to the T, and then take the T into work, I think that would add too much time to the commute. I'll look into it further though. In the mean time, I'm still interested in any input on parking in Boston.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 3:24 PM on June 23

Congrats on the new job! The Boston Common Garage is surely not the closest parking garage to where you will be working, but it's not too far and the walk to your destination takes you through the Common, which is a damn fine way to start and end the day. I might suggest getting a monthly pass there for a month or two while you get acclimated and work on finding something that's more convenient to your office.
posted by Sublimity at 4:25 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

I have been going into our office near South Station infrequently over the past year and have never had trouble finding parking. Specifically, in parking garages. It's usually around 9am. A few times I've used SpotHero, but I've realized I can also just drive in and find a spot. It's definitely around $40.

The part that will suck is the driving. But I also find the T sucky these days so... I pick the one that stresses me out the least. I don't blame you for not wanting to park at Alewife and take the Red line.

One thing I've noticed is it seems like everyone works Tues-Thurs and all of the office buildings seem much emptier on Mondays and Fridays. I even got on-street parking one day which was surprising.

One other thought -- see if anyone is renting out their personal parking spot. I found a spot on Craigslist once in a different location, but paid a guy to use his spot while he was at work.
posted by jdl at 8:06 PM on June 23

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