The struggle is real: parking in downtown Lansing

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By Ella Kovacs
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

Everybody knows the feeling of struggling to find a parking spot. Especially in congested city areas, it can be difficult to find a place to leave your car before a shopping outing, a quick bite to eat, or even a day of work.

There are several options—you could drive in circles looking for a street side opening, where you’ll empty your pockets of change for the meter. Or you could find a parking garage and pay significantly more for your temporary spot.

People on the streets of Lansing were more than willing to share their transportation stories.

Keith Masters, a man found near the Capitol with a camera taking pictures, said that he chooses to use public transportation rather that drive his own car and try to find a parking spot.

a map of various parking options in Lansing. Photo courtesy of lansingmi.gov

A map of various parking options in Lansing. Photo courtesy of lansingmi.gov

“It’s easier to get around for me,” said Masters. “Buses are pretty good, taxis are pretty good.”

Masters lives in the Lansing area, and he uses many different routes for the different places he visits. He does own a car as well, but has apparently only used it about four times this year.

For those who choose to use their car on everyday commutes, finding a place to leave that car is not always as easy as one would hope.

Katie Comme and Shelli Doll also live in the Lansing area, and they work in the Washington Square Building. They commute to work every day.

When asked if it was easy to find a parking spot that morning, Comme responded “Well

A map showing where state employees are encourage to park as well as public parking areas. Photo courtesy of www.michigan.gov

A map showing where state employees are encourage to park as well as public parking areas. Photo courtesy of www.michigan.gov

considering I got here at 6 a.m., yes, but usually it’s not.”

They explained that they usually park in a nearby lot, which is easy to use only if you have paid for a monthly parking pass. In that case, you are guaranteed a spot to park, even if the lot sign says “full.” Without a paid monthly pass, there are no promises that there will be an open spot for your vehicle.

According to a document provided by lansingmi.gov, these monthly parking passes can range from $85 to $167 for parking garages, and from $20 to $70 for parking lots.

Some people have no problem at all parking their car in a full downtown. Suzanne Swanson and Jan Tetrick are teachers at a school in Southfield, Mich. They don’t make this commute often, but were coming to check out the Capitol for a school field trip they were preparing for. They said it was very easy to find a parking spot on the side of the street, in front of a meter.

Paul Metaxatos, Associate Director for Research Programs and Research Associate Professor for Intelligent Transportation Systems Planning and Transit Planning at University of Illinois at Chicago talked about how parking garages in a downtown area are VERY expensive, and the prices of meters are getting higher. But he said the meter still beats the price of a garage.

He also talked about how young people are not buying cars as much as their parents’ generation, and that it is more popular for them to use public transportation.

“More people are riding the train, more people are riding the bus,” said Metaxatos.

However, Metaxatos also talked about how gas prices decreasing is pushing people to drive more.

Gas prices from 2013 to 2016. Chart courtesy of fuelguagereport.aaa.com

Gas prices from 2013 to 2016. Chart courtesy of fuelguagereport.aaa.com