[Published: June 20, 2022]

Among life’s burning questions such as Why is the sky blue? and Why do birds sing? is Why does Stanford charge for parking?

Why - GIF

Let us explain. The university charges for parking for two main reasons. First, there are a limited number of parking spaces on both main campus and at Stanford Redwood City (SRWC) to service our large population of university affiliates. Second, charging for parking provides a disincentive for those in the Stanford community to drive to campus. This is key because, as stated in our Annual Cordon Count article, as part of the university’s No Net New Commute Trips, the university is obligated to not exceed the number of vehicles that entered and exited the university during peak hours in 2001.


Where does the revenue go?

Revenue generated from parking helps Stanford Transportation manage, operate, and enforce our parking lots and structures. It also helps fund the Marguerite bus system and our many sustainable transportation programs which save commuters money, help ease Bay Area traffic, and lessen our Stanford community’s carbon footprint.

How are parking permits priced?

The long-established parking permit prices are designed with specific goals in mind. The ‘A’ permit is designed as a tool for university affiliates who need mobility throughout the day. The ‘A’ permit provides additional flexibility on arrival time and proximity to their work location.  The ‘C’ permit is designed as a less expensive alternative to the ‘A’ for university affiliates who come in and/or leave early and who don’t have to use or move their cars during the day.

Why do I see empty ‘A’ spaces? Shouldn’t those be converted to ‘C’ spaces?

To justify the cost, the University prioritizes ensuring ‘A’ parking is always readily available, which might explain why you may see empty ‘A’ spaces when driving through a campus parking facility. We need to ensure that affiliates who purchase an ‘A’ can always find a space. Stanford Transportation continually monitors parking space inventory and adjusts available permit type inventory based on the parking demand.

Does anyone park for free at Stanford?

No. Everyone pays to park on campus – all university affiliates including students, staff, faculty, hospital employees, and visitors.

What Makes Sense for Me – a Daily or Monthly Permit?

To help you decide whether it makes sense to purchase a daily vs. monthly permit, we’ve created a Permit Picker.

Any Exciting Developments on the Horizon?

We thought you’d never ask. Taking hybrid schedules into consideration, Stanford Transportation is working toward a convenient solution in the future that will offer an option to pre-purchase daily permits in bulk to be used when needed. Stay tuned for more details