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Bay Area Transportation Authority Offers Free Shuttles For National Cherry Festival

Tens of thousands of people visit the National Cherry Festival, and with all those people comes a lot of traffic.

Those drivers are all fighting for a parking spot.

But if you’re hoping to make it here, no worries, 9&10’s Megan Woods found the best way to find a good spot and a driving alternative.

Bay Area Transportation Authority’s free National Cherry Festival shuttle is one way to get around any parking troubles.

“When I drove in there were a crowd of people and a crowd of cars,” Christina Whitaker, passenger, BATA NCF shuttle said.

Parking during the week of National Cherry Festival can be a nightmare.

“I think I looped the city four or five times trying to find anything. After about 30 minutes of circling Traverse City, I decided to head out to Sleeping Bear Dunes instead and then drove in early this morning,” Whitaker said.

“Sunday both of our facilities were full, we were completely at one point Old Town was oversold so we did have to do some refunds and send some people out because there was a miscount. When we get into a full situation a lot of it comes down to people running and physically counting spaces,” Nicole VanNess, DDA & Traverse City Parking Services said.

It’s a parking war, BATA doesn’t wish on anyone that’s why all this week they’re offering free shuttles from Thrilby Field and NMC to the festival.

“Being not familiar with the area at all, not knowing where I am and there being a ton of people I figured the shuttle was a good option because I don’t need to worry about driving myself, pedestrians or anything like that,” Whitaker said.

If you decide to drive, check out downtown Traverse City’s online interactive parking map.

“Also consider the time of day obviously the next couple of days especially Wednesday, Thursday, Friday we’re expecting most of our employees downtown," VanNess said. 

 And it gets better, with the holiday Tuesday, the parking meter spots will be free.