July 07, 2009
Getting Around in Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor is a small city, where getting around with or without a car are both viable options, depending on where you live and how public-transport friendly you happen to be. So, for those of you without a car, you can use the resources in the city to get around just fine-while moving here with your car is also no problem. So here, dear readers, I will present you with a guide to getting around Ann Arbor with or without your car.
For you road warriors out there, the only real problems you may run into with your car center on where to put it when you're not driving. For the most part, as long as you live more than a block or two from central campus or downtown you should not have much of a problem parking your car at your home. However, campus and downtown do not offer free and easy parking during business hours, so students who drive to campus but don't have a rich benefactor to pay for their parking must find a way to get from their car to class. Check out your options:
Parking close enough to walk - This is more or less possible if you find street parking in any of the neighborhoods adjacent to campus. This is a nice option, but a gamble. This free parking is already in demand by students living in these neighborhoods, as many of these houses have more residents than parking spots, and also desirable to pretty much every university commuter. Also, in the winter street parking spots can be filled with plowed snow and are subject to "snow emergencies", which restrict parking to one side of the road or the other to allow for snow plowing. So, at best you may have to drive around for a while to find a spot and walk 10-15 minutes to class, while at worst you may not find anything because all the nearby spots are taken or filled with snow. If you opt for this option, it's best to have a backup plan.
Commuter Lots - As a UofM student you are able to ride all Ann Arbor city buses for free with their student ID, and Ann Arbor has a few places around town where you may park your car and take a shuttle to downtown or campus. From any of these locations (State Street near I-94, Pioneer High School and Miller Road north of M-14) you can take a bus to somewhere near campus for free. It's free and more reliable than parking on campus, but does require the extra time of taking a bus. Check out the AATA website for details and locations.
Student Parking Permits - Once you are registered for classes and have your MCard you can purchase a parking permit from the University. The University has its own version of commuter lots, but they're a bit closer to campus and have busses that run to and from them every 10 minutes during the day (15 later in the evening). Graduate students can buy a yellow or orange permit, which allow you to park in yellow and/or orange lots. You can also add the "After Hours" Blue option, which allows you to park in the totally sweet blue structures after 3pm only. Details on parking permits are available on the Parking and Transportation Services website.
If you don't have a car-no worries! Many people come to SI without a car and use a combination of the public transport options to get where they need to go. Check 'em out:
Walking/Biking - Depending on where you choose to live, you may find most of what you need within walking or biking distance. Ann Arbor is a pretty bike-friendly town, so many students live within a short bike ride to campus, and get to/from class that way during the year, supplementing their transportation methods with city buses during bad weather. The City requires you register your bike in case of theft, and purchasing a quality lock is recommended.
Buses - As a student you can ride both city and campus buses for free. City buses cover a much larger range of routes, while campus buses run later in the evening and run more frequently. You can find campus and city routes online and decide which route will get you where you need to go when you need to get there. This can also be useful when looking of housing.
Zipcars - When you absolutely need to get somewhere and can't find some kind soul to drive you around, with a yearly membership you can utilize the University's Zipcar system to rent a vehicle by the hour.
Taxicabs - Not much to say here...Ann Arbor has a few taxi companies, so if all else fails you can pay someone to drive you somewhere if the need arises.
So there you go-getting around in Ann Arbor isn't all too difficult, you just need to know what the resources and restrictions. As a small city the downtown and campus area are the "nougat" of the city, with a suburb-y coating. Whatever neighborhood you choose will probably have most of what you need, and there are a lot of options to get you to campus or downtown. Enjoy!
Posted by messelti at July 7, 2009 05:27 PM