Cambridge Parking Sucks.
Looking back in 2009, I realized that I actually got a lot of parking tickets from a city, and for the most part, the tickets are not my fault, yet the city does not care enough to correct it. That is right, the city is Cambridge, MA.
I have drive in many cities, Boston, New York, Toronto, Montreal, Washington DC, and sometimes get parking tickets. In small towns like Brookline, MA, you do get parking tickets easily if you miss the parking meter by 10 minutes, however if the meter was broken, or did not work in the morning, when you write in to challenge them, you can usually get the tickets waived if it is not your fault.
It is to my opinion that if the city want people to visit, it needs great public transportation accessibility or parking accessibility. I feel that Cambridge, though it has 2 great universities, seemed to be a little lacking in accessibility. For example, getting from BU to Central Square, just a bridge away, would take 5 minutes by car, and probably 40 minutes by Train. Maybe because the MBTA bus services which are pretty irregular, totally sucks and you have to take the Green Line to the Red Line, which is highly annoying, but sometimes, cutting through from Central Square to Allston and Brighton areas give students more housing options too.
I can live with bad public transporation as many people like to compare it with places like South Darkota or Montana, where population density is non-existent, and having a bus system or a train system is great. So lets talk about the parking situation.
In Boston and the vicinity, most drivers will be aware after their 3rd ticket, that there are many meter maids out there to get you. The city loves to make money off the minor infractions you cause, and make you pay. I believe the system is fair as you get to choose where you park, and it is basic supply and demand principle. However, the major difference with Cambridge, MA and the rest of city area near Boston is -- Cambridge will fine you, and will not review your case at all -- simply expect you to pay for every ticket.
I've parked my motorcycle in Cambridge, near Harvard Square, at 6pm where the meters are off. When I returned to my motorcycle, I found that a car had parked in front of it, and another behind it, and I got a parking ticket. Apparently, my motorcycle was moved slightly to allow 2 cars to park, and parking between the cars was a violation.
On a second incident, I parked my motorcycle at a space which is smaller than what a car can park at 6pm, after the meters were off, and got a parking ticket for not parking at a "valid" parking spot. There was no hydrant nor was I blocking anyone in that small spot that nothing else but a motorcycle could park.
On a third incident, I was trying to park on a cold morning at 8am, and I've driven to 8 parking meters which were frozen due to the cold. I wasted 8 quarters and the meter was still not registering the quarter. I changed another 8 quarters and placed 4 of them in a meter, but still the meter read "expired". Finally I gave up and had coffee in the store while looking out for my car. A meter maid came, and I got a ticket, and when I explained to her and even showed her that the meter was broken, she simply said that I can appeal.
On three cases, my appeal failed and I got the same reply -- Your ticket CANNOT be dismissed. I feel that this city is very impersonal, and from this minor interaction, I would not see myself living or starting a business there as the administrators simply do not care and would probably hide behind bureaucracy.
I am very disappointed and probably would avoid Harvard Square at all costs and do my businesses elsewhere as the city, though central and easy to get to, does not encourage people to park there.
If I had time and nothing better to do, I'd be fighting for my parking ticket, but alas, I have a life.
Cambridge MA, you really suck.