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City to sell discounted evening parking passes

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Good idea?

Parking passes cut cost of a night out downtown

Friday, July 11, 2008

By Jim Harger

The Grand Rapids Press

Help is on the way. The city will begin selling $15-a-month evening parking passes that can be used at some of its downtown parking ramps.

The program will begin July 21 on a three-month trial basis, Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema said.

The new VIP passes were approved by city parking commissioners Thursday at the urging of bar and restaurant owners in the Van Andel Arena district.

I would think this is a good idea if you spend 3 - 4 nights a month downtown. It sounds like this card could be used in the city ramps even when they are charging "event" rates.

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I like the idea.... it may become more of a "hunting license" on nights Griffin games, but I'm sure that the season-ticket holders will jump right on this idea...

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Good idea?

Parking passes cut cost of a night out downtown

Friday, July 11, 2008

By Jim Harger

The Grand Rapids Press

I would think this is a good idea if you spend 3 - 4 nights a month downtown. It sounds like this card could be used in the city ramps even when they are charging "event" rates.

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It seems a bit amazing the amount of time and energy that goes into avoiding a simple, comprehensive parking validation program for downtown merchants.

Whether it is parking validation, regulating street venders or limiting pedicab service, our fair city seems bound and determined to go on its own and struggle through the learning curve that other metropolitan areas have already been through. I mean, it's only within the last few months that we are finally able to actually flag down a passing cab for crying out loud. What's that saying about those that refuse to learn from the mistakes of others?

Do you ever get the feeling that our city leaders view growth as some sort of wild animal to be restrained and wrestled to a standstill lest it get to far ahead of their ability to manage it? This city is growing people, grow with it or get out of the way. :angry:

Rant over.

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...Whether it is parking validation, regulating street vendors or limiting pedicab service, our fair city seems bound and determined to go on its own and struggle through the learning curve that other metropolitan areas have already been through. I mean, it's only within the last few months that we are finally able to actually flag down a passing cab, for crying out loud. What's that saying about those that refuse to learn from the mistakes of others?

Do you ever get the feeling that our city leaders view growth as some sort of wild animal to be restrained and wrestled to a standstill lest it get too far ahead of their ability to manage it? This city is growing, people, grow with it or get out of the way. ...

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In my opinion, this deal is too good. Seriously, come downtown 3 nights in a month and it's paid for?? Let's tack on an extra 5 bucks a month and fund an immediate increase in evening bus frequency. At least then there'd be a viable alternative to driving and parking... *sigh*

If we want to move toward mass transit in this town we need to stop offering incentives to cling to our automobile-centric lifestyles. I really can't blame anyone for not considering public transits for a night out when half the routes cut to every 45 or 60 minutes after 6pm, while a few cease altogether.

I know it's a pipe dream but I'd love to see a bit extra tacked on to fund more mass transit options, and still have a great deal for those that need their car...

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In my opinion, this deal is too good. Seriously, come downtown 3 nights in a month and it's paid for?? Let's tack on an extra 5 bucks a month and fund an immediate increase in evening bus frequency. At least then there'd be a viable alternative to driving and parking... *sigh*

If we want to move toward mass transit in this town we need to stop offering incentives to cling to our automobile-centric lifestyles. I really can't blame anyone for not considering public transits for a night out when half the routes cut to every 45 or 60 minutes after 6pm, while a few cease altogether.

I know it's a pipe dream but I'd love to see a bit extra tacked on to fund more mass transit options, and still have a great deal for those that need their car...

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I think businesses downtown already have the option to do validated parking. I know Bistro Bella Vita does. And many offices do. It might not be affordable to many restaurants and retailers though, whose margins are probably already pretty slim. "Validated" just means the merchant has to pay it, not the customer.

With this system, the merchants don't have to pay, the parkers get a discount and the city supposedly is hoping to get more parking income for ramps that aren't being used that much at night. I think it's a worthwhile trial to see how it goes.

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Well, I think it's sort of yes and no on that. I know some local places can stamp a parking ticket from some ramps, but go to Leo's and ask them if they can validate your parking for the ramp right over their heads and they'll tell you they aren't allowed to. I believe it has to do with that ramp being a choice ramp for event parking at the arena.

However, I could be way wrong too and if so, I apologize.

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In my opinion, this deal is too good. Seriously, come downtown 3 nights in a month and it's paid for?? Let's tack on an extra 5 bucks a month and fund an immediate increase in evening bus frequency. At least then there'd be a viable alternative to driving and parking... *sigh*

If we want to move toward mass transit in this town we need to stop offering incentives to cling to our automobile-centric lifestyles. I really can't blame anyone for not considering public transits for a night out when half the routes cut to every 45 or 60 minutes after 6pm, while a few cease altogether.

I know it's a pipe dream but I'd love to see a bit extra tacked on to fund more mass transit options, and still have a great deal for those that need their car...

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I think this is a great idea. It's very cheap, but that it part of the plan. The only thing is to make sure that these 'passes' are advertised well to the general public and are available throughout the metro area...ie at bars, restaurants, VA Arena, DeVos, Metro Area Meijers, D&W's...make it easy to get them just like GR trash bags and I think it could cause a boom for GR business.

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I too agree that better public transportation would be key...but lets face it busses running every hour isn't going to cut it. Also the bus route that I would take stops at 10:45PM M-F and 9:15PM on Sat.

If there are extra spots in the evenings, why not let people use them for less $ and bring some more business downtown? I can see the argument for encouraging people to move away from their cars if it means building more parking for the peak hours, but this program is designed to use excess capacity.

I would think the program could be expanded to include all day Sat and Sun. If you want to get more downtown retail these are the hours people often shop. Again I would think that the demand for ramps would be very low during those times.

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Andy...you are very wise!

All of the research I have done on parking and it's impact on public transportation would wildly agree that this is a really bad idea. Not that I don't like it personally but the general concept is not to make it cheaper to drive but rather to create incentives and methods for people to use more public transportation. So, while it is appealing from a vehicle owner perspective it is not a good public policy move. But...that never stopped us before.

DJL

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Is this be a version of the chicken and the egg?

If you get people coming downtown on a regular basis, there is more need for public transportation. Then better and more accessible public transportation is made, and then people who are "hooked" on going downtown see the new transportation as a better and cheaper way of getting to their destination.

As for the rail porject, rather than trying to prove to the powers that be that "if we build it, they will come" maybe this will turn it into "they have been coming, let's build it"...

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Apparently, they don't need any proving if you catch my drift....

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I too agree that better public transportation would be key...but lets face it busses running every hour isn't going to cut it. Also the bus route that I would take stops at 10:45PM M-F and 9:15PM on Sat.

If there are extra spots in the evenings, why not let people use them for less $ and bring some more business downtown? I can see the argument for encouraging people to move away from their cars if it means building more parking for the peak hours, but this program is designed to use excess capacity.

I would think the program could be expanded to include all day Sat and Sun. If you want to get more downtown retail these are the hours people often shop. Again I would think that the demand for ramps would be very low during those times.

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If the intent is to get more people downtown it wont work. Think about the mechanics of it, you have to buy a monthly pass for a specific garage ahead of time. Joe Suburban Guy who rarely comes to the City will continue to eat dinner near the mall and drive home because of the free parking lot outside the restaurant. Accordingly, the discount will only serve people who are already going downtown regularly and who can plan ahead and know which of the 3 garages they want to use. This means that it adds few, if any, new visitors. It doesn't even make economic sense unless one visits downtown 3 or more nights per month.

If this is such a good idea, why not make the ramps free? This takes the "excess capacity" argument to its most logical conclusion. Just raise the gates and call it good. Why go halfway? At least under that option, it can be more spontaneous and potentially get a few more people downtown. We could argue that there would be more employment at the restaurants and bars and thus more city income tax. It would be a weak argument but it makes more sense than the current program.

I am not arguing the pocketbook issue for the few who will benefit. The parking commission can put on the red suit and beard and be Santa all they want. But lets be clear and very realistic, this program does not bring any new money to the city, it does not get any more people downtown, it does not add any jobs or new businesses. So, what exactly is the benefit? The fact remains that it is bad public policy. I stand by that point.

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If the intent is to get more people downtown it wont work. Think about the mechanics of it, you have to buy a monthly pass for a specific garage ahead of time. Joe Suburban Guy who rarely comes to the City will continue to eat dinner near the mall and drive home because of the free parking lot outside the restaurant. Accordingly, the discount will only serve people who are already going downtown regularly and who can plan ahead and know which of the 3 garages they want to use. This means that it adds few, if any, new visitors. It doesn't even make economic sense unless one visits downtown 3 or more nights per month.

If this is such a good idea, why not make the ramps free? This takes the "excess capacity" argument to its most logical conclusion. Just raise the gates and call it good. Why go halfway? At least under that option, it can be more spontaneous and potentially get a few more people downtown. We could argue that there would be more employment at the restaurants and bars and thus more city income tax. It would be a weak argument but it makes more sense than the current program.

I am not arguing the pocketbook issue for the few who will benefit. The parking commission can put on the red suit and beard and be Santa all they want. But lets be clear and very realistic, this program does not bring any new money to the city, it does not get any more people downtown, it does not add any jobs or new businesses. So, what exactly is the benefit? The fact remains that it is bad public policy. I stand by that point.

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A good compromise would be to do the same thing that birmingham does and make the first two hours free in a any parking garage. it works great for going out to dinner or for some quick shopping. once people are downtown they may be inclined to stay longer and then the garages would make some money. It is a great incentive to come downtown though.

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... And maybe I'm crazy, but it doesn't seem unrealistic to add a few bucks on to these passes to help fund later bus service. ...

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Chris Knape slams the new VIP parking passes.

And from the sounds of it, for good reason. If someone perceives downtown to be "inconvenient" when it comes to parking, why would they go to such extremes to get one of these passes? Swing and a miss.

But hey, it doesn't hurt to throw some s**t on the wall and see what sticks I guess.

If we had a bloody light rail/commuter rail system serving downtown from the burbs, this would be a non-issue.

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Chris Knape slams the new VIP parking passes.

And from the sounds of it, for good reason. If someone perceives downtown to be "inconvenient" when it comes to parking, why would they go to such extremes to get one of these passes? Swing and a miss.

But hey, it doesn't hurt to throw some s**t on the wall and see what sticks I guess.

If we had a bloody light rail/commuter rail system serving downtown from the burbs, this would be a non-issue.

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