Eastern Michigan University commuter students are frustrated with the parking system.
“My parking experience is hectic, in a word,” said EMU senior Angie Moore.
She said her commute is about 40 minutes, and she tries to be parked about 20 minutes before her 9:30 a.m. class.
“This, however, never happens,” she said. “I wait to turn onto campus, I wait to turn into the parking structure, I wait to find a spot. By that time, it is normally 9:25, and the only spots left are at the top of the structure.”
EMU junior Mike Solano has had hectic experiences with parking as well.
“Since I’ve gone here, parking has been an unpredictable wildcard that at times determines if I’m late for certain classes, even if I leave extra early,” he said. “This semester has been no picnic either. In the second week of the semester, I went an absolutely ridiculous 45 minutes driving around everywhere on campus looking for a spot before I realized the only way I was getting a spot that day was to pay for parking. I almost drove home and called it a day, but since I spent so much effort looking for a spot, I ended up staying. That day I was 30 minutes late to class.”
Beth Hardcastle, processes coordinator for EMU’s parking department, offered options for students.
“Although there may not be parking right outside each building, Green Lot 1 located off Huron River Drive always has open parking spaces,” she said. “The Parking Department monitors this on a daily, hourly basis and has not had the lot fill to capacity fall or winter semesters.”
EMU’s parking website also lists tips to help students get the most out of parking. It suggests parking in a lot that generally has spaces when you arrive to campus, allowing sufficient time to find a parking space and walk to your destination and consider carpooling or using the shuttle bus, which is free to all EMU students with their EagleCard.
“The shuttle runs the designated route in approximately 22 minutes,” Hardcastle said.
The website also said parking lots close to classroom buildings are generally full between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Moore said she always leaves early to get a spot, and she has attempted to carpool with others but the differences in class schedules has made it nearly impossible to do on a daily basis.
She also said the shuttle wouldn’t work for her situation.
“I would never consider taking a shuttle,” Moore said. “Leaving my car that far away would terrify me, as well as the fact that I normally go back to my car during the day to switch out books.”
EMU senior Kyle Smith said with his tight schedule, he doesn’t have the chance to get to campus any earlier to find a spot.
“When I’m on campus I’m in class, and when I’m off campus I’m at work, which restricts me from allowing myself more time,” he said.
Another concern for students is that they are paying $100 each semester for a commuter hang tag, but if they can’t find a spot they will resort to using a pay lot.
“Because of the time restraints with my work schedule and classes, most of the time I end up paying out of pocket for parking, which I despise because I am already giving Eastern Michigan enough money for other things,” Smith said.
Solano has found himself in a similar situation.
“Sometimes I can find a spot, sometimes I find myself resorting to a pay lot,” he said. “It’s not ideal, especially if you’re paying for a commuter tag. You’d think once you had that, you’d be good to go.”
To improve the parking situation, Smith suggested looking at the landscape of the college to see how lots could somehow be expanded.
He also suggested using some of the non-used land or areas around campus to turn those into parking areas.
“I’m sure there are different approaches the university could take to start to think of how to make parking better,” he said.
Moore thinks EMU needs to re-evaluate its parking.
“The fact that the majority of its students are commuters means that quite a bit of importance should be placed on this issue,” she said. “However, it seems that commuters seem to be overlooked, and are forced to fight to the death—or at least to angry hand gestures—for a spot; any spot.”
Moore also thinks the lots should be in better condition.
“The lots are filled with potholes, and some are even extremely confusing, having only one in and out,” she said. “Eastern needs to redo the lots on north campus.”
Hardcastle said the Parking Department has been working with the Physical Plant Division to continue to improve the Rynearson Lot.
She said this past year they repaved the area closest to the shuttle pick-up/drop-off area, and plan to expand on that project for the next several years.
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