Parking Madness: San Jose vs. Lansing


It’s early going in Parking Madness 2018 and we’re still getting to know the field of 16 competitors. Today we’re pleased to introduce two landmark parking craters, either of which could advance deep into the tournament.

Yesterday, we showed you parking horrors in Houston and Jacksonville. Voting is still open in that match.

Today’s competition features two parking crater archetypes: A Bay Area transit station, and a state capitol in the cradle of America’s automotive industry.

San Jose


An anonymous reader nominated the area around San Jose Diridon Station, which is served by Caltrain, Valley Transportation Authority light rail, Amtrak, and several bus routes. Our submitter writes:

The areas directly to the north and east of San Jose’s main train station are parking lots. While this crater does not seem as big as others, it is right next to the second busiest train station on the west coast. Not only the 2nd busiest station of California’s west coast, but the entire west coast of the Western Hemisphere.

This area may not be such an awful parking crater for long, since it’s slated for development under San Jose’s Diridon Station Area plan. We think it’s only fair to let this stupendous waste of land next to a busy transit hub compete in the tournament while it’s still in such lamentable condition.



This is downtown Lansing, Michigan. Reader Rick Brown sends this description — you can orient yourself here.

Yes. Most of these lots are for State of Michigan employees or visitors, particularly those between Kalamazoo and Ottawa Streets, west of Pine Street. The series of buildings between Allegan and Ottawa west of the capitol itself are all state offices and the one north of the circle on Washtenaw is the State Historical Museum and Archives.

It’s fitting that the capitol of the state most associated with the auto industry has been flattened by fields of car storage. But Lansing is hardly unique in that regard — plenty of other capitols are overrun by parking for state employees too.

Vote below to send one of these craters on to round two.


12 thoughts on Parking Madness: San Jose vs. Lansing

  1. Your (anonymous) submitter for San Jose is in need of a reality check. Please provide supporting evidence for the claim that San Jose Diridon is “the second busiest train station on the west coast”.
    With just over 4,000 daily boardings this station isn’t even the second busiest train station in the Caltrain system, ranking fourth behind San Francisco, Palo Alto and Mountain View.
    If the submitter is referring to Amtrak ridership, the San Jose Diridon Station accounts for around 700 daily boardings and only ranks around 20th in the State of California. Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego are each in the top ten busiest Amtrak stations in the U.S.
    And if you widen the definition of “train stations” to include regional rail systems such as BART, LA Metro Rail and SF Muni, there are at least 60 train stations in California that are busier than San Jose Diridon.

  2. State office buildings are especially bad because they are normally active during daytime hours Monday through Friday.

  3. “Entire western hemisphere”? Did you compare to all stations on the west coast of Central and South America? Santiago? Lima? Quito? Didn’t think so.
    As far as railway stations go, San Jose is actually pretty calm, perhaps a few trains per hour if you include commuter trains.

  4. San Jose is worse.

    We need to cut Lansing some slack – after all, they don’t have much demand that would cause the lots to be converted to more productive uses. San Jose does.

  5. Many of the parking lots in the area around Diridon Station in San Jose are slated for redevelopment as part of a proposed Google Transit Village. This station will become the busiest transit hub west of the Mississippi when planned connections to California High-Speed Rail and BART are added in the next few years. Stay tuned for complete transformation. I doubt that Lansing has anything similar planned in this lifetime.

  6. The San Jose city council has retained the existing parking requirements around the station. The google development will probably increase the amount of parking, either below ground or in a garage.

  7. I was measuring “busiest” by the number of weekday trains. Not counting VTA light rail, about 116 trains call at downtown San Jose daily. First place of course goes to LA Union. The number of trains is a measure of transportation potential. One of the reasons that boardings are not high in downtown SJ is due to the parking crater that surrounds it.

  8. Check the number of heavy rail trains calling at Santiago, Lima, and Quito and you will get your answer. For reference over a hundred trains call at downtown San Jose daily. While that is pathetically low compared to big Asian and European stations so you can read that as a commentary on the state of rail transit in the USA. Or South America 🙂

  9. That’s a reasonable explanation, Though I’m not inclined to employ a supply-side metric. “Trickle down transportation”.

  10. The original plan for Lansing was to create a mall like the one in D.C. Several of the areas slated for lawn and park are now parking lots. =

  11. The flattening of the near west and south side of Lansing began in the 60’s. They had planned buildings to fill all of that space. The neighborhood was poor and mainly African-American. They had little power to stop, the Capitol Complex M-99 and I-496 and GM which cleared out most of those neighborhoods. Out State politicians feel like any money spent in Lansing is a waste so they have often stood in the way of filling in the spaces cleared so long ago. The new buildings they have built are fortress like and feel separated from the neighborhood around them. Add the huge nearly empty[way less workers there] employee parking, and new car lots at GM I think Lansing wins for the biggest best ugliest surface parking lots anywhere.

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