Monthly Parkers Snap Up Cards

    GRAND RAPIDS — Has economic activity picked up downtown over the past year?

    If the number of monthly parking cards issued over the last dozen months is considered a reliable indicator, then, yes, it has.

    The city’s Parking Services Department has seen the number of available monthly cards drop by 36.4 percent from January 2002 to January 2003. A year ago, Parking Services had 1,452 spaces available for monthly parkers at 15 ramps and lots. This year, 986 are available, meaning there are 466 more cards in service this year than last.

    Acting Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema reported that gains occurred in the City Centre and Government Center ramps and the DASH lots.

    “It’s good to see the ramp occupancy up again,” said Jack Hoffman, chairman of the Parking Commission.

    But next year’s annual report will have a different look, as the Interurban Transit Partnership will take possession of a large piece of the Area 6 lot in March and begin building its new Surface Transportation Center on the parcel. That lot serves the DASH South system, and it had gained 270 monthly parkers over the last year.

    Ritsema said DASH service would still originate from there, operating from the parcels north and south of the ITP site. She estimated that her department would lose about 300 spaces when construction begins. But there are no plans to raise the monthly fee with the supply loss.

    “It’s the least expensive parking option available to our access card holders,” said Ritsema.

    Monthly parkers pay $30.50 in one section of Area 6 and $20.50 in another section of the lot. The fee includes shuttle rides from the lot to various downtown locations and back.   

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