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Haystack app aims to fix Boston parking problems

On any given day, in any part of the city, it’s a safe bet that there are more than a few frustrated drivers cursing as they take on the tricky task of parking in Boston.

Metered parking in Boston can be hard to come by. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO Metered parking in Boston can be hard to come by.
PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

On any given day, in any part of the city, it’s a safe bet that there are more than a few frustrated drivers cursing as they take on the tricky task of parking in Boston.

But after this week, there may be new hope for motorists looking to park their cars on city streets.

Haystack, a mobile app that launched last month in Baltimore, lets Apple iOS and Android users buy and sell street parking spots in real-time.

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Users are able to connect with others in their neighborhood who are either searching for a parking spot, or leaving one. Space buyers are charged $3, with $2.25 going to the space sellers and 75 cents going to Haystack.

Haystack app Founder Eric Meyer describes the technology as “Uber meets Tinder,” and said he believes the app will reduce emissions and traffic congestion, as users will spend less time searching for those coveted spaces.

“We had several Haystack members here in Baltimore who said, ‘Oh my God, if there is one city that needs this more than any other city in the country, it’s Boston,'” said Meyer, 24.

“We had been looking at couple different cities, but Boston is similar to Baltimore in many respects. This is a solution that is going to help neighbors help their neighbors,” said Meyer.

Haystack Founder Eric Meyer came up with the idea for the app after having trouble locating parking in Baltimore. Photo: Haystack Haystack Founder Eric Meyer came up with the idea for the app after having trouble locating parking in Baltimore. Photo: Haystack

But not all are as excited about Haystack’s Boston launch.

Kate Norton, a city spokeswoman, said that the city encourages innovation that addresses transportation challenges, but that services like Haystack "artificially inflate the cost of parking and allow individuals to profit from public space."

"Neither of these activities are in line with the city's effort to keep parking as open and publicly accessible as possible. These spaces are publicly owned, and cannot be privately sold,” said Norton.

Despite the position of Walsh’s office, Meyer said he had a productive conversation with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics Co-chairs, Nigel Jacob and Chris Osgood, who were “very open” to hearing about the app and collaborating and find solutions to the city’s parking shortage.

Jacob and Osgood did not respond to a request for comment as of deadline Sunday.

Haystack is hosting a launch party Tuesday night at the Liberty Hotel, and the technology will go live in Boston on Thursday.

Visit www.haystackmobile.com for more information.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS

 
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