Frequently Asked Questions About the Transition
About the New System
How do virtual permits work?
It’s as easy as one, two, three:
- Enter vehicle information and purchase a parking permit. Customers enter vehicle information, including the license plate number(s), for as many vehicles as they plan to park in Stanford-enforced parking areas. Be sure to purchase a permit for the day(s) you plan to park on campus and confirm your license plate is entered correctly. You need to enter the time period you want the permit to be valid—whether for a day, week, month, or year(s). Please check your total for daily parking permit purchases before finalizing your transaction. If you notice a discrepancy, contact us at email@example.com.
- Enforcement officers will scan license plates of vehicles parked in Stanford-enforced parking lots and garages. Using a mobile, hand-held, or vehicle-mounted system, they will scan license plates one vehicle and one area at a time, similar to the way they currently walk from vehicle to vehicle to inspect permits in windshields.
- The system will identify parking violations. Enforcement officers will determine whether to issue a citation when the system identifies a vehicle that does not have a permit or has the incorrect permit for the parking space. During the transition to a fully virtual system, the officer will check the front windshield to determine whether a correct and valid physical permit is displayed. If not, a parking citation will be issued.
Learn more by visiting our Virtual Permit Resources page, which includes a video featuring our executive director, Brian Shaw, discussing what this means for Stanford and how it works. The page also includes helpful illustrations.
Entering License Plate Information
Can I have multiple vehicles on my account? What about having the same vehicle on multiple accounts?
Each user can have multiple vehicles in their account and associated with their permit. However, each license plate can only be entered in the system once. All subsequent attempts will be blocked. You have to remove the license plate from your account before another person may use the license plate as their permit.This ensures that another person cannot use your license plate and parking permit without your knowledge.
Please note that only one vehicle may be parked on campus at a time for each permit.
For each vehicle you add, please make sure to link your vehicle information to your parking permit. To learn how to link your vehicle(s) to your active parking permit, visit our "How to" Guide.
If you are in a carpool/vanpool, you can have the same vehicle on multiple accounts since that vehicle is associated with your carpool permit. If you or one of your carpool/vanpool members are driving separately to campus, whoever is driving the second vehicle to campus will need to purchase a daily permit.
I share a car with my spouse, family member, or other commuter in the same household. What should we do?
If couples/same-household commuters share a vehicle, one commuter needs to purchase the permit and associate the license plate with the permit. It does not matter which commuter does this.
If same-household commuters are sharing two vehicles with two permits, we recommend that each commuter enter only one unique license plate. When one household member drives the vehicle not associated with him/her, it will be valid, as long as there is a valid permit associated with the vehicle.
If each household member has a different vehicle and different permit type (‘A’ or ‘C’ permit, for example), they will have to know and remember which permit type is registered for each vehicle and park in the correct parking space to avoid citation.
If household members want to switch their permits and vehicles, they need to remove the information of their vehicle from their current permit designation and add that vehicle's information to the other permit account. For example, if you have an 'A' permit and your spouse has a 'C' permit, and you will be driving your spouse's vehicle, then your spouse would remove their vehicle from their 'C' permit account. You would then be able to add your spouse's vehicle to your 'A' permit account. The same process would have to be followed each time you switch vehicles and want to switch permits.
What if I get a new car and it does not have a license plate yet?
In the license plate field in the P&TS system, enter the dealer-issued temporary number. If unavailable, enter the last eight characters of the vehicle identification number (VIN). The VIN is visible through the windshield and can be found in the lower corner of the windshield, on the driver’s side. IMPORTANT: Update this field with the permanent number once you have it.
What if I get a rental or loaner car?
If you have a rental, enter the license plate and vehicle information to your permit. You can enter this information on the day that the rental is being used and the permit will be activated in real time.
What if I have a personalized license plate or a special character/symbol in my license plate?
Please enter the letters and numbers of your license plate in the 'Plate' field when adding a vehicle to your account. Do NOT insert any special characters, spaces, or half-spaces when doing so. License plate recognition systems are unable to read special characters/symbols. For example, if your license plate has a special character and there are three letters on each side, please only enter in the six letters in a row with no spaces.
We also recommend that you add your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in the 'VIN' field.
What if my license plate is dirty or I do not have a front (or back) license plate?
Enforcement officers will have to exit their vehicle and walk to the front or back to do a manual search of the license plate on their tablet.
Please note that California law requires that when the Department of Motor Vehicles issues two license plates for a vehicle, one must be affixed to the front of the vehicle and the other to the back. (CVC 5200)
What if someone enters my license plate to use my permit?
Only one license plate can be entered in the system, and only one license plate can be used to park on campus at the same time. This prevents anyone else from trying to use your license plate. If they want to use it, they have to ask you to remove it from your permit, then they can assign it to their permit.
What if someone steals my license plate?
If someone steals your license plate, they are committing a felony. Altering, counterfeiting, and stealing license plates is a felony according to the California Vehicle Code CVC 4463 and “shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for 16 months, or two or three years, or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year.”
If someone does steal your license plate on Stanford’s main campus, you will need to file a police report with Stanford’s Department of Public Safety and notify the Department of Motor Vehicles. If it is stolen elsewhere, you will need to file a police report with the city/jurisdiction where the theft occurred. While you wait for the DMV to send new license plates, please enter the last eight digits of the vehicle identification number (VIN) for your vehicle in the license plate field in our system. When you receive the new plates, you can update your information in our system.
Can I opt out of this new virtual parking permit system?
All Stanford affiliates can choose whether or not to drive and park at Stanford. We encourage all affiliates to use sustainable transportation options, which is one way to opt out of Stanford’s parking permit system. We offer commute planning assistance and programs, such as carpooling and vanpooling, which may enable you to be a passenger, rather than a driver. If you would like our assistance with your options, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As another option, there are a small number of coin-operated meter spaces on campus. The coin-operated meter spaces for visitors will be the only parking on campus not based on license plates. However, they are being phased out. Coin-operated meters are expected to be replaced with ParkMobile pay-by-license plate spaces by summer 2019, prior to our office's move to Stanford Redwood City.
How does this affect Commute Club members?
Commute Club members enroll in the Commute Club in a similar way as our online ordering process. Here are some key differences:
When joining the Commute Club in the new system, your membership will be ongoing. You will no longer need to select months of enrollment each fiscal year. This means you will need to remember to re-enroll in Commute Club, especially if you plan to go in and out of the Commute Club throughout the year. Remember: There is no retroactive enrollment in the new system.
If you purchase daily permits in the new system, you will need to enter the time period you want the permit to be valid. Since you must select the day you intend to use the daily permit, you will no longer purchase "blank" permits the way physical "scratcher" permits work. You will either purchase it in advance when you know you need it or on the day you actually plan to use it. There is no limit on the number of daily permits you can purchase, but if you exceed ten in any given month, you may find it more cost effective to purchase a monthly permit.
Carpool and vanpool members can apply online and directly manage their memberships instead of completing paper application forms.
I am in a carpool. Do I get my free monthly scratcher?
The new system has a number of benefits. It also has some limitations. One limitation is that the new system does not support the once-a-month, free daily permit functionality, so this incentive is being discontinued. Please note that we introduced free carpool parking permits as of Sept. 1, 2017, which partially offsets the change in the free daily permit incentive. Whereas the free daily parking permit was used by some carpool members, the free carpool permit incentive benefits all carpool members in every month they are eligible.
The new parking permit management system has many other enhancements for carpool members, including the ability to manage their carpool directly in the system and not needing to pay up front for their carpool permits.
How will it work for departments that purchase parking?
Departments will NOT use the virtual parking system until Sept. 1, 2019. Until then, departments should continue to use their existing supply of valid physical parking permits. If they need new department permits, they should come to the P&TS office (340 Bonair Siding) to purchase them. Departments will continue to use physical permits through Aug. 31, 2019.
After Sept. 1, 2019, departments will follow a separate but similar process to manage department parking permits. The new system allows multiple department contacts, who can assign and reassign permits as needed. It also allows multiple license plates to be assigned to the same permit.
Departments will designate two or more department contacts to manage department parking permits. These contacts will still “check in” and “check out” parking permits, similar to what they do with physical permits. The difference is that it will be done online instead of physically issuing and returning permits.
More information about this process for departments will be provided as the new parking permit management application is launched.
Can departments purchase physical permits now that the new system has launched?
Departments can purchase physical permits through Aug. 31, 2019. Department contacts may come to our office to purchase physical department permits, which will be valid through December 2018 or their expiration dates. Departments will not use the virtual parking permit system until September 2019.
I have unused daily physical "scratcher" permits. Can I still use them?
Unused, un-expired (2019) scratcher permits will be valid at both the main campus and SRWC through the end of 2019. Please note: Scratchers will not longer be accepted after Dec. 31, 2019. There will be no refunds for unused scratchers, so we encourage you to use your physical permits as soon as possible and ensure you use them before Dec. 31, 2019.
If you have unused 2018 scratchers which have expired, they can be exchanged for 2019 scratchers at our office.
Can I use a “scratcher” permit even if I have a virtual permit?
Yes, physical daily “scratcher” permits can be used even if you are using a virtual monthly or long-term permit. However, since there will be no refunds for unused physical scratchers as of Dec. 31, 2019, we encourage you to use any unused physical "scratcher" permits on hand as soon as possible, and before the end of 2019.
What if I need to cancel my daily parking permit after I have purchased it?
In order to receive a refund on a daily permit, you must cancel the permit by 9 a.m. on the day for which you purchased the permit. Permits can be cancelled through our online ordering system.
Does this change affect parking permit rates?
While rates may change from year-to-year, the new system will not change the permit structure or the types of permits available.
Customers will enter the duration of the permit they are purchasing. The permit duration will automatically correspond to the correct rate: daily or monthly, academic, and annual rates. For example, if someone currently purchases a monthly, academic, or annual permit, they can choose a similar duration for their virtual permit in 2018-19 and beyond. While permits will not be called 'monthly,' 'academic,' or 'annual' in the system (since customers select date ranges, not permit types), when a customer selects one of these timeframes, the rate charged would reflect prevailing rates for the new academic year.
If a resident or commuter purchases daily permits, they would continue to do so at the daily permit rate. Since there are no limits on the number of daily permits customers may purchase, it is up to each individual to determine when a monthly or long-term permit would make more sense financially than purchasing daily permits.
Can I purchase any permit?
The same restrictions and designations for permit purchases apply to the new permit system. As such, the system will only display the type of permit each customers is eligible to purchase. For example, Stanford commuters are eligible to purchase commuter permits. Stanford residents may purchase resident permits.
Does this impact off-campus parking?
This applies to Stanford’s commuter, resident, and department parking permits for university and hospital affiliates. If you work at Porter Drive, SLAC, or another off-campus worksite, this will only affect you if you plan to park on campus using daily permits. After Aug. 31, 2019, it will also affect you if you plan to use a department permit to park on campus. If you use a department permit, your department needs to submit at least two department contacts to P&TS before Aug. 31, 2019. Once department permits become virtual, these contacts will be able to assign the department permit to your vehicle as needed.
How do parking permits work for residents?
Parking permits work the same way for residents as it does for the entire campus. Those purchasing new permits use virtual permits on and after June 25, 2018, when the new system launched.
Those with current physical parking permits must continue to display their physical permits until they expire. As of Sept. 1, almost all parking permits are virtual, except daily physical “scratcher” permits, which remain valid through their expiration date.
How will SH and Emeritus parking permits work?
If you have an SH or Emeritus permit, please continue to use your current permit until it expires on Dec. 31, 2018. If you need a new permit, please contact us at 650.723.9362, email@example.com, or come to our office. We will be reaching out to you directly in the coming months and will be glad to assist you if you need assistance in the meantime.
Will you have an app?
We expect to have an app available in the future. In the meantime, purchases can be made from smartphones and other mobile devices by accessing the ordering portal on the P&TS website through the browser on your device.
Are there locations where ordering a parking permit from a mobile device might not work?
Using a mobile device to purchase a Stanford parking permit depends on having access to the internet. We are aware that Wi-Fi connectivity in parking garages on campus may be an issue. If you are having Wi-Fi connectivity issues, we recommend that you wait until you get above ground to purchase your permit. Consider taking a photo with your smartphone of your license plate (and make and model of the vehicle) to make it easier to enter the information when you are above ground or in an area with better Internet connection.
Timeline and Action Items
When does the new system go into effect, and what do I need to do?
The new system was phased in between June and September. Those purchasing new parking permits started using the new system, including virtual permits, when it launched in late June. Those who have a current, valid parking permit, such as daily "scratcher" and department permits will continue to display them in their windshield until their permits expire.
Departments will continue to be able to purchase physical permits through Aug. 31, 2019, by coming to the P&TS office to request them. These permits will be valid through Aug. 31 or their expiration dates, enabling departments to have additional time to work with our office to transition to virtual permits.
- Refer to our illustration of the two-phase implementation.
- Refer to our “What Steps Do I Need to Take?” chart for actions you may need to take.
Who can use the new system?
All Stanford affiliates who purchase Stanford parking permits or who are members of Stanford’s Commute Club must use the new system. This includes commuters, residents, and departments that purchase parking for visitors.
This change does not affect those at SLAC, Porter Drive, or other off-campus sites unless they purchase parking permits to visit the main campus. Visitors (general public) will continue to use parking pay machines, the ParkMobile app, or, until our office moves in 2019, metered visitor spaces.
How will you protect the privacy and security of my data?
We understand and respect concerns about privacy and data security. With the new system, we only collect, store, and use data for parking and transportation program-related uses (i.e., parking enforcement, program management and improvement, and communications) or to comply with Stanford’s policies or the law. Those accessing the data are strictly limited, and they are required to log in, enhancing security and accountability.
The principles we developed to manage our program are based on Stanford University data management practices and have been informed by License Plate Recognition (LPR) data management practices from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). In addition, our program is consistent with Santa Clara County’s Automated License Plate Recognition Policy.
About the New System
What has changed?
Stanford has changed how parking permits are purchased and enforced, moving to a virtual system that is expected to be easier and more flexible for Stanford users. With this new parking permit management system, you will no longer have to display a physical parking permit. Your license plate becomes your virtual permit.
Stanford Commute Club members who park on campus will be using virtual daily or carpool permits and will have new ways to manage memberships through the system.
For more information, please refer to our article, "Introducing Stanford's New Parking Management System."
Why is P&TS making this change?
There are several reasons for this change, including the fact that we need to upgrade our current database. As we evaluated options, we selected a system that would position Stanford to improve and advance its programs, including the opportunity to offer new commute incentive programs and real-time parking availability notification systems in the future.
In addition, virtual parking permits are among the changes our office is making over this academic year to enable us to manage our programs remotely once our office moves to Stanford Redwood City in 2019. Since we will no longer have a physical presence on campus, we are transitioning all of our programs to be managed online. From transit passes to parking permits, P&TS is going virtual.
Our office is scheduled to move to Stanford Redwood City next summer. Until then, you are welcome to come to our office at 340 Bonair Siding Road for assistance with the new system. Whether we are on campus or in Redwood City, we will continue to have customer service staff who can assist you in English and Spanish.
What are the benefits of the new system?
The new system has a number of advantages for the Stanford community:
Increased Speed and Convenience. You can purchase parking permits anywhere, at any time, from a variety of devices. Permits are valid immediately, so you don’t have to make a trip to our office or wait for a permit to arrive in the mail.
Greater Flexibility. Register multiple vehicles on the same parking permit, so you don’t have to transfer one permit between vehicles. Rental and loaner cars can also be added to the system on the day they are being used, with the permit activated in real time.
Improved Sustainability and No Lost Permits. Did you know we replace hundreds of lost permits each year? With the new system, you won’t have to worry about paying to replace a lost or stolen permit. In addition, our office will stop printing and distributing tens of thousands of permits annually, which is a plus for sustainability at Stanford.
Automatic Renewals. If you are a Commute Club member, your membership will continue until you choose to cancel it or you become ineligible. For those who drive, if you purchase a long-term virtual permit, you can choose an end date years in the future, so you don’t have to remember to renew your permit every year.
What if I have other questions?
We will be glad to assist you. Our customer service staff will be available to assist you in English or Spanish. We can answer your questions by phone or online. While we remain on campus, we also are glad to assist you in person at 340 Bonair Siding. Please send questions, comments, and feedback through our online comment form. You might also want to visit our new parking management system microsite for updates and resources, including a "How To" Guide to help you use the new system.