On-campus parking once again point of frustration among GV students this fall


Aubree L Wagner

GVL / Aubree Wagner

Jacob DeWeerd, Staff Writer

As Grand Valley State University has seen the return of many in-person classes this semester, students are finding themselves frustrated with one common problem: on-campus parking. High prices, the number of spots available and the lack of alternative parking options in downtown Grand Rapids are raising concerns for students.

Issues with parking are raised at the start of every school year. Chris Swank, Manager of Parking, Transportation, and Services has seen it all before.

“Each fall for the first few weeks, parking seems to be tricky as people are figuring out where to park, where they are permitted to park, what to expect and when to arrive at campus,” Swank said. “We are hopeful that this will level out soon.” 

While students usually end up figuring out where to park as the year progresses, the issue of parking permit prices is not exclusive to the start of a new semester. Before the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, commuter permit prices were raised to $240 per semester. Compared to Grand Rapids Community College and Western Michigan’s semesterly costs of $125 and $150 respectively, GVSU’s permit prices are substantially higher.

“It’s too expensive and it’s frustrating,” 4th-year student Jesse Schmitt said. “The price point is outrageous, especially with how many empty spots we have anyway with classes being half in-person and half remote.”

For commuter students looking for ways to get between campuses without buying a semesterly parking permit, there are several alternative options.

“If someone is only coming to campus a few times during the semester, in lieu of purchasing a parking pass, I would recommend they utilize pay-to-park or purchasing a day pass for $10,” Swank said. “It comes down to how many times they will be on campus to see where they would find the most savings.”

While it may not make sense for students coming to campus several days a week to buy day passes, there is another mode of transportation they can utilize instead: the Laker Line. Alongside the permit price increases at the start of the 2020-21 academic year, GVSU also saw the launch of the Laker Line bus route connecting the Allendale and Pew campuses. 

“The most affordable option would be to park at one of our park-and-ride lots in Standale and ride the Laker Line to campus,” Swank said. “This option is free and service is every 10 minutes during peak times and takes approximately 10 minutes to get to Kirkhof on the Allendale Campus.”

The Laker Line is also a great option for student residents who need to travel between campuses. Residents need to buy residential parking permits at a cost of $210 per semester to keep their vehicles near on-campus housing, but those passes do not allow for parking in commuter lots which are typically located closer to academic buildings. 

The lack of non-GVSU parking spaces is of particular importance to students who have most of their classes downtown, where there are hardly any places to park off-campus.

“Seriously. I have to pay $240 for 30 minutes of parking a week downtown,” 4th-year engineering student Evan Driscoll said.

The only additions to parking spaces this year have been roughly a dozen new spaces in lot D on the Allendale Campus and 600 spaces on the Health Campus downtown. The new spaces on the Health Campus were added with the construction of a new ramp connected to the Center for Interprofessional Health. 

As a result of this new construction, student parking at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences is now prohibited.

More information about on-campus parking and permit prices can be found at www.gvsu.edu/parking.