Posts Tagged ‘parking’

Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Globe.
Janelle Emmanuel, a Watertown resident, opted to rent out her driveway on Spacer, a parking app that’s gaining users around Boston.

When my friend Sara was a professor at Harvard and Stanford tried to lure her to the West Coast, the most irresistible thing that Harvard offered her was a parking space in Cambridge. There was a spot next to her office building that used to change hands every year among the faculty. It could be hers permanently. Sara stayed.

Although I myself always took public transportation when I worked in Boston and Cambridge, I learned that on a day when I needed a car, parking could be a real problem. There are public garages, of course, but the cost is a king’s ransom. No one who commuted to work in a city would want to pay that every day.

A new app makes it easier for someone with an unused parking space to help out someone who needs a space — and make some money at the same time. Today, using a driveway as an income generator is not just for people who live near the beach.

Collin Robisheaux writes at the Boston Globe, “Everything is pricey these days, and a little extra income can go a long way.

“Enter Spacer, an app that strives to be the ‘Airbnb of monthly parking‘ by connecting commuters in need of an empty space with locals who have an unused parking spot or driveway.

“It works like this: Someone with an empty driveway can download Spacer, input some personal information and details about the spot, and list it on the app or website for renters to reserve in month-long periods. Renters can then snag the parking spot for their personal use. …

Spacer Technologies was founded in Australia in 2015, before expanding to North America and acquiring Where I Park Inc. earlier this year. With more commuters returning to the office, parking has become a more pressing need — and Spacer has been a beneficiary, with Boston receiving more booking requests in October than any other city on the app. …

“With snow causing headaches for drivers with outdoor parking, some users may be thinking ahead, with booking requests for covered spots in the Boston area up 77 percent since July.

“Spacer said it has about 300,000 users globally, and hundreds of rentable spots in and around Boston. It makes money by taking 25 percent of transactions; the remaining 75 percent goes to the users who rent out their spaces.

“Daniel Vernick, 25, in Somerville [said,] ‘It was quite straightforward. It definitely took away some of the rent burden.’ …

“Vernick was able to net $220 per month. That kind of extra cash is what sets Spacer apart from other parking apps, according to Jeremy Zuker, chief executive of North America for Spacer Technologies.

“ ‘You can actually take something that you’re not using, like your driveway or your garage, and you can just turn that into a revenue stream,’ Zuker said. …

“Spacer is relatively new to the rental scene and has plenty of competition. Websites like Facebook and Craigslist have long served as platforms for advertising and renting out parking spaces.

“But Janelle Emmanuel, who joined both Spacer and Craigslist to rent out her driveway last year, says she feels more secure on Spacer than she did digging through Craigslist.

“ ‘I feel like with Craigslist, you don’t really always know what’s going on there,’ Emmanuel said. ‘But Spacer, I felt very safe.’

“Emmanuel rented out her driveway in Watertown, capable of fitting up to three cars, after a friend recommended the rental service as a side gig. Emmanuel said the app adds an element of separation between the renter and the host, which made her feel more secure.

“Residential neighborhoods like Allston, Brookline, Somerville, and parts of Cambridge are all popular locations on the app. Spots in the downtown and Seaport areas are fewer and pricier, but executives at Spacer hope the app can help with parking congestion in the city.

“ ‘This whole idea of efficiency is about both the infrastructure and the spaces,’ Zuker said. ‘But also just in getting people where they need to get without wasting time and fuel.’ “

All my friends in rural America must be laughing now. But you know, it’s a good thing that humans can figure out how to do what they have to do. I will say that better even than a rented parking space is an employer that subsidizes your use of public transportation. I sure missed that perk after I left MIT.

More at the Globe, here.

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