For those students who rely on their cars
to get to class, run errands and commute home, parking in Ann Arbor
can be a hassle. Overly zealous tow trucks, steep fines and the
limited availability of parking all make it increasingly difficult
for a student to have a car on campus. While the city and the
university could take some steps to be more student friendly, it is
also important for students to take advantage of the abundant
transportation alternatives that exist in Ann Arbor, as building
more parking lots will only exacerbate the parking congestion.

Janna Hutz

Regulations governing existing parking spaces often negatively
impact students. Many parking garages have a 6 to 10 a.m. shopper
zone on the first floor — the same time most commuter
students are arriving on campus. To make matters worse, on some
streets, the city has allocated spots that prohibit parking between
3 and 6 a.m., effectively eliminating the ability of students to
use those spaces overnight.

Those who rent their own apartments are surprised when they
realize there is often an extra charge for a parking space. In
addition, landlords contract towing companies to monitor parking
lots and remove cars without permits located on the proper spot on
the cars. They often tow cars before their owners have a chance to
move them, and the fine to get the car back can be incredibly

Faced with limited options, students are understandably
frustrated. In an effort to quell rising demand, the University
constructed a new 800-spot parking garage on Palmer Drive. While
the garage was intended primarily for faculty and staff use, it
also contains 183 visitor spaces.

The problem with this strategy of building more parking lots to
ease the parking shortage is that building more spaces will have
the opposite effect. With more parking options available, more
students will bring cars to campus. The current parking shortage is
what prevents many students from bringing cars with them to

If students and faculty cannot find a place to park, there is an
alternative: riding the bus. In addition to the existing campus
buses, this past year the University spent $1.8 million on the new
MRide program which allows free access to Ann Arbor Transportation
Authority buses. Students only have to show their Mcards and are
granted free access to a bus system that stretches from Saline to
Dexter. On top of this, the University of created new routes to
Oxford Housing and Northwood and also bought a new bus for the
Bursley/Baits route, which will allow it to make stops every five
minutes instead of every 10. The Ann Arbor bus systems are an
environmentally friendly, safe and affordable means of
transportation, and more students should consider utilizing

The need for more parking space should be balanced with the
realization that more will not necessarily alleviate the shortage.
Often it seems the problem with parking in Ann Arbor has more to do
with too much demand for parking than it does with the lack of
parking. As the garages get higher and the lots wider, more
students will likely bring their cars to fill up those spaces. It
is a vicious cycle that is best remedied by seeking alternative
means of transportation — biking, walking and taking the

Parking pandemonium

Responding to student parking needs

the Daily’s “Stuck in a tight spot” parking feature

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