Cambridge officials are hoping a change to the parking meters in Harvard Square next week will free up more spaces at night for dinner and theater goers.
Starting Monday night, motorists will need to feed parking meters until 8 p.m. when they park in the square. That is a two-hour extension from the 6 p.m. time at which the meters currently shut off.
The extended hours will affect 580 parking meters, and Susan Clippinger, director of the city’s traffic, parking and transportation department, said the change is being made in an effort to create more turnover in parking spaces.
Harvard Square will be the first area in the city in which meter hours are extended, but Clippinger said the city will also be looking at making the switch in other business districts.
Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said businesses in the square are waiting to see if the change will help or hinder the availability of parking.
“That is the hope, is that it will free up a couple of more spots,” Jillson said.
But Jillson said with more than 1,500 spaces in parking decks in the square and a number of other ways to travel to businesses in the area, including public transportation, she said parking concerns are not at the top of the list for Harvard Square merchants.
Clippinger said the businesses in the square are used to the fact that it’s “constrained parking situation.”
But Clippinger said extending meter hours could stop motorists from parking at a meter at 6 p.m. when the meters stop and leaving their car in the spot until 8 a.m. the next day. She said the city is hoping extending the hours will prevent patrons from having to get to the square so early to get a parking spot.
“It’s really about trying to manage scarce resources and manage them the best we can,” Clippinger said.
Meter rates will remain $1 per hour, and Clippinger said she has not calculated how much revenue the extended meter hours will generate for the city.
The city is also increasing the time limits on 250 meters in the square from one to two hours.