Campus Parking – Many Options Available


By Mike Harris, CAPP

Almost all campuses fall into the categories of being both unique and predictable. They have parking spaces located in lots, garages, and/or on street, and almost all want to park in the most convenient space next to the door of their building. These are things that are common across campuses everywhere.

The unique attributes of campuses are the many ways they manage the predictable mindsets of the average parker. There are a variety of ways to divide and assign the spaces and it all starts with the way the permitting and parking are distributed.

There are three regularly used distribution methods.

  • Pricing Method: consists of flat rate, demand based, and salary based.
  • Permit Approaches: hunting licenses, zones, assigned, and hybrid.
  • Distribution Order: queueing, proximity, seniority, and lottery.

To find what works best usually starts with building the foundation of the approach. Evaluate your current conditions, number of spaces by classification, building from the core of campus out from most convenient to least and then building the approach from there.

Once you have the data and the current conditions are laid out begin the discussion with stakeholders to get an idea of what is most important to them and the variable cost structure, they would be comfortable paying. Having established a compromise between pricing and convenience it’s time to decide how the registration process is choreographed. In other words, who gets what priority.

Every campus is a little different however, if you follow this process, it can help provide for a clear roadmap of what may need to be charged, the type of permits to be issued and the way they should be distributed. Campuses across the country are now preparing for the fall registration process and now may be a good time to revisit this in this ever-evolving world of campus parking.

Mike Harris, CAPP, is Director of University Services for SP+, and a member of the IPMI Accredited Parking Organization Working Group. He can be reached at