Freshman Parking Policy
Stanford students are not permitted to bring cars to campus for the duration of their freshman year (Fall through Spring quarters). This includes students who have enough credits to be considered sophomores at any time during their first academic year at Stanford.
Stanford's growth is limited by restrictions contained in our current General Use Permit with Santa Clara County. Limits are imposed on the square footage of new buildings, parking spaces, and traffic (measured by the number of trips to and from campus).
In order to be able to build the housing and new academic facilities needed to allow Stanford to continue to thrive as a world-class institution, the University must impose parking restrictions. Inevitably, such a policy has an impact on the life of the campus.
Parking restrictions have been applied to freshmen, as it is our belief that they will be least impacted by this policy. Freshmen are required to live in residence halls with board plans, and any freshman who needs a job may obtain one on campus. Freshmen are also supported by a wide array of special social activities in their residence halls and elsewhere on campus.
We realize that freshmen students will want to take advantage of the many activities available off-campus as well. While no resources can truly match the convenience of a private car, a number of alternative solutions to help freshmen get off campus for social, public service, and other discretionary purposes have been created and are outlined below.
It is our hope that by restricting cars in the freshman year, students will take advantage of the many alternative transportation options available to them, and will think twice about the need to bring their cars in subsequent years. Unlike many universities, resident students at Stanford have enjoyed the privilege of being able to park as close as possible to their residence halls. By restricting car usage in the freshman year, we hope to better protect this privilege for other resident students.
Interpretation and enforcement of this policy
Stanford Transportation will not sell parking permits to freshmen, and other members of the community who are eligible for a parking permit will not be permitted to purchase one for a freshman or register a vehicle that belongs to a freshman or their family in order for the freshman to circumvent the parking policy. Attempts to do so will result in both parties being reported to the Office of Community Standards and having any future parking privileges revoked.
In addition, we ask that students comply with the spirit of this policy by not bringing cars to campus with the expectation that they can be parked on the streets or public areas of our neighboring communities. Stanford works with its neighbors to reduce traffic flow and parking in nearby off-campus neighborhoods, and students are expected to help Stanford be a good neighbor.
Students who can demonstrate a compelling need or who would suffer undue hardship under this policy can apply for a waiver. Waivers will be reviewed by committee (including student representative(s) chosen by the ASSU Nominations Commission), and will be kept to an absolute minimum. Information on waivers can be obtained on the Freshman Parking Waiver page.
The Task Force on Freshmen Transportation (comprised of representatives from the Offices of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Stanford Transportation, and representatives from the 1999-00 ASSU Undergraduate Senate) explored a number of options to help meet the needs of freshmen and other students without cars. For example, the Stanford After Midnight program expands the hours of operations of many on-campus services.
To meet the needs of students without cars, the University has developed the following programs to assist students in getting around the local area and going away for the weekend.
- Marguerite Shuttle. Stanford operates the Marguerite shuttle system, which can take students around campus and to neighboring cities. Lines N and O run nightly and take students around campus and into downtown Palo Alto. The Shopping Express route runs weeknights and weekends, connecting campus residences to the Palo Alto Caltrain Station, the California Avenue shopping district in Palo Alto, and the San Antonio Shopping Center in Mountain View. The Shopping Express, N, and O lines operate only during the academic year (September through mid-June).
- Freshman Emergency Ride Program. Freshmen students who register for the Freshman Emergency Ride Program are offered a "safety net" for unforeseen travel emergencies. The Freshman Emergency Ride Program is run in partnership with a local cab company. Students who find themselves stranded off-campus without a way back using existing transit alternatives can take a FREE cab ride back to campus for up to 3 rides per year (each ride must be to a campus destination).
- Car sharing at Stanford. Zipcar provides a self-service, on-demand car sharing program at Stanford, available to students ages 18 and up. There are various models, including Toyota Prius hybrids and an SUV. Zipcars are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at convenient campus locations and nationwide. To use a Zipcar, simply register as a member, reserve a car online or by phone, use your Zipcard to enter the car, and drive away. Rates start at $5.50 per hour and include gas and insurance. Visit the Zipcar at Stanford page for more information or to apply for membership.
- On-campus car rentals. Enterprise Rent-A-Car operates a branch on campus that rents to students ages 18 and up. Special student rates are available for hourly, half-day, daily, weekly, and monthly rentals. Enterprise’s Residents Rental Program also offers $10 weeknight rentals for Stanford affiliates (call in advance to make a reservation). Visit the Enterprise Rent-A-Car page for more information.
- Program funds. Program funds are made available to residence staff for bus or van rentals for off-campus trips for freshmen.
For more information, refer to Freshman Parking FAQs.