FAQs

Q. Who is eligible for a parking permit at Harvard?

A. Individuals who are eligible to receive a parking permit include:

    • all faculty and staff with a University-issued identification card;
    • undergraduate students, graduate students, research assistants and teaching fellows, as well as Harvard Extension School or Summer School, participants in Executive Education or Professional Development programs, and cross-registered students;
    • employees of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, childcare centers, and any other Harvard-affiliated institution.

Retired staff are ineligible to apply for yearly parking permits. All other applicants should contact their local department Transportation Coordinator, or call Parking Services at 617 496-7827 for more information.

Q. What are my options for purchasing a parking permit?

A. Parkers have a number of payment options available to purchase a permit:

    • Cash
    • Check
    • Credit card
    • Payroll deduction
    • Student term bill

Permits may be purchased in person, or by contacting the Parking Services office. Every spring there is an online renewal service that runs through the summer. This affords all of our current permit holders the oportunity to renew their permits through our Web site. Please note that individuals with outstanding violations equal to or greater than $75.00 need to bring their balance to zero before a permit can be renewed.

Faculty and staff on the regular University payroll are eligible for payroll deduction of parking fees. Employees paid on casual or stipend payrolls must pay for parking permits by cash, check, or credit card. Annual parking fees are divided evenly and deducted during pay periods from August through June. Depending on payroll procedure, the deduction schedule may change.

Pre-tax payroll deduction:

Recent changes to Federal tax laws have made it possible for employees to pay for personal monthly parking on a pre-tax basis. As regulated by the IRS, the pre-tax benefit is intended for those who use their cars to commute to work.

Faculty and staff who do not live in University-owned facilities and are eligible for payroll deduction, are eligible for the pre-tax benefit.

Q. What kinds of parking permits are offered?

A. The University offers a number of general permit types to meet the different commuting needs of faculty, staff, and students. Parking permits are for commuting use only, with the exception of tenant permits. University parking facilities are not to be used for vehicle storage.

    • Reserved permits are granted for specific spaces reserved for commuter permit holders' exclusive use at any time. These spaces are identified by a number, sequenced within a given lot or garage.
    • Unreserved permits are granted for non-assigned spaces in a designated area, and are valid from 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, and all day on weekends.
    • Morning permits are granted for non-assigned spaces in a designated area, and are valid from 5:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and all day on weekends.
    • Afternoon permits are granted for non-assigned spaces in a designated area, and are valid from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, and all day on weekends.
    • Three-Day permits are granted for non-assigned spaces in a designated area, and are valid from 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. on three weekdays selected by the parker, and all day on weekends. The three days must remain consistent throughout the year.
    • Evening Commuter permits are granted for non-assigned spaces in a designated area, and are valid from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, and all day on weekends. Permit issuance is determined by current availability. Commuter permits are not available to residents of Harvard University affiliated housing, and are for commuters only. Hours of parking on this permit are strictly enforced, violators subject to ticketing, towing, and revocation of parking privileges. This fee is not pro-rated, and is non-refundable.
    • Motorcycle permits are granted for non-assigned spaces in designated areas within parking facilities. Permits are valid from 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Motorcycles are prohibited from parking on sidewalks or in spaces designated for vehicles.
    • Metered permits are granted to part-time employees only. Metered permits are valid specifically at the Fran Lot Meters. Metered permit holders must also pay the posted meter fee of $1.25 per hour. A four-hour maximum is enforced.
    • Tenant permits are granted for non-assigned spaces in garages or surface lots. These permits are valid 24 hours per day, seven days per week. This permit is available to faculty and staff members who do not use their vehicles to commute to campus.

*Please note that hours during which permits are valid are subject to change*

Q. How long can I expect to be on a waiting list?

A. Historically, there has been very little activity on waiting lists for centrally-located facilities during the fall months. New applicants can expect to remain on these waiting lists for at least 36 months. However, facilities located in areas farther away from central campus typically have shorter waiting lists, or none at all. Please contact the Parking Services office for the most up-to-date information or help with waiting list placement.

Q. When does my parking permit expire?

A. Faculty and staff, students and HRES resident parking permits are valid from July 1 until June 30. If you are in doubt as to when your parking ends, the expiration date is located on the back of your permit.

Q. How do I arrange for an accessible parking permit?

A. University Disability Services (UDS) and Parking Services jointly manage all parking policy and parking requests based on disability. Faculty, staff, and visitors with specific needs should contact the UDS at 617 495-1859 (voice) or by email: disabilityservices@harvard.edu. University Disability Services will request any medical documentation or other verification of disability or injury that may be necessary prior to the authorization of parking or shuttle services. Students with specific needs should contact the Local Disability Coordinator at their school. Those who require accessible parking as a reasonable accommodation will not be required to pay more than the applicable rate for similarly situated individuals without disabilities who park in the same facility.

Q. How are parking rates determined?

A. Parking fees are determined by the costs of facilities, maintenance, administration, security, and enforcement. These costs are then passed on to those who use the parking facilities. Historically, parking rates have been relatively inexpensive and subsidized by the University. However, the cost of constructing new underground parking facilities is substantial. Yet even with substantial University subsidies, parking rates will have to increase in the future.

Q. I recently looked at my pay stub and I'm being overcharged for parking. What do I do?

A. Deductions for annual parking are divided evenly over however many remaining pay periods there are from the time of the next payroll run after the permit is issued, until the end of the academic year or cancellation. For example: For permits purchased in early July that are not cancelled before the end of the academic year, Faculty will have approximately 11 deductions, Staff who are paid on a bi-weekly basis will have 23 deductions, and Staff paid on the weekly payroll will have 46 deductions. If a permit is returned, but it has not yet been paid for in full for the time it was in the permit holder's possession, one (sometimes more) final deduction will be made for the balance. Similarly, if an overpayment has been made at the time the permit is returned, the appropriate credit will be issued. However, if you believe you are being charged incorrectly for a parking permit, please contact Parking Services at 617 496-7827.

Q. I was recently transferred to a new job location on campus. Can I change my parking location?

A. Parking Services recognizes that job transfers often require a change of parking location and we make every effort to accommodate these requests. If we are not able to move your lot designation as close as you would like to your new work location, we will add your name to the wait list database for the desired location.

Q. If my vehicle registration number changes during the year do I need to obtain a new parking permit?

A. No. You may use your permit on the new vehicle, but call the Parking office with the new registration number and vehicle information. However, because transponders are not transferable, and are inoperable if removed from a vehicle, if your designated parking area requires you to have a transponder you must visit the Parking office with your new vehicle information (license plate state and number, make and color). You will be issued a new transponder at that time.

Q. If I have to drive a loaner vehicle to campus, how can I gain access to my garage or lot that requires a transponder?

A. Visit the Campus Service Center at Smith Campus Center (formerly Holyoke Center), 8th floor, with your Harvard ID, the vehicle plate number, and the dates during which you'll be using the loaner, and you will be issued a temporary access card to use for the time you'll be using the loaner car.

Q. Is my University parking permit valid on the streets of Cambridge or Allston?

A. No, your University parking permit is only valid in the designated Harvard parking lots. To obtain a city permit you must register your car in Cambridge or Allston.

Q. How do I obtain a Massachusetts registration or change my principal place of garaging to Cambridge or Allston?

A. To register your vehicle in Massachusetts and change your principal place of garaging to Cambridge or Allston, you must contact your insurance agent. They will guide you through the process. Based on where you live, please visit the home page for either the City of Boston or the City of Cambridge.

Q. How do I arrange for a temporary or daily parking permit for any visitor to the University?

A. You or your guest may purchase a visitor's permit either from the Parking office, or from the self service Daily Parking Permit purchasing system. The online system is highly recommended for its convenience and 24-hour availability. Permits must be purchased prior to arrival at the parking facility, and must be displayed at all times when parked on campus. If the permit is purchased at the Parking office, payment may be made by cash, check, credit card, or 33-digit billing code. If the permit is purchased online, payment may be made by credit card (excluding University Purchasing Cards) or 33-digit billing code. Please note that a waiting period of up to 10 days is possible for online billing code approval.

Permits may not be purchased over the phone. Except for the Business School Lot, permits may not be purchased at any parking facility.

Q. When I tried registering with the self service Daily Parking Permit purchasing system, I was asked for my department code. What is that code?

A. Anyone with a valid Harvard ID is automatically registered in this system and does not need to provide a four-digit department code. Harvard affiliates may enter the system using the Harvard University PIN system. For questions regarding obtaining a PIN, please contact the UIS Help Desk at 617 496-9001 or pin_help@harvard.edu.

For those using the online system who do not have a Harvard ID, the four-digit department code may be obtained from the Transportation Coordinator for the given department.

Q. How do I arrange for group parking for an event at Harvard?

A. All requests for Event parking should be sent to event_parking@harvard.edu. Certain information is required for us to meet your event parking needs:

    1. Event Name: This is how your guests will identify themselves to our Parking Monitors at the parking lots and garages in order to secure parking.
    2. Location of the event (building name).
    3. Day and date of the event.
    4. Number of vehicles you will need parking for. Take the number of guests you have coming to your event, and divide by three. This will give you an accurate estimate of the number of vehicles you'll need parking for.
    5. Start time of the event. It is suggested that you schedule an extra hour before the event to provide for any early arrivals or other personnel who may need to arrive early.
    6. End time of the event. It is suggested that you schedule an extra hour after the event to ensure that all parkers have time to get to their vehicles and get out of the lot/garage.
    7. Contact information: Name, address, day and evening phone numbers, and e-mail address. E-mail is our preferred method of communication.

If you happen to know the garage or lot you would like to reserve, you can include this also, but it is not required. Please note, administration fees will be applied to last-minute requests, cancellations, or changes.

Q. What is CommuterChoice? What options are available for commuting to Harvard?

A. CommuterChoice is a program managed by Harvard University Transportation Services. It is designed as a resource for individuals who commute to and around Harvard. At CommuterChoice, affiliates can learn about transit options and discounts, bicycle routes and safety, walking events, and carshare membership, as well as receiving assistance with forming carpools and vanpools. Registration is free to all Harvard University affiliates.

Q. How can I compare the costs of different commuting options?

A. The CommuterChoice website features an interactive online calculator that allows you to compare the costs of different transportation options. You may also call the CommuterChoice office at 617 384-RIDE.

Q. How do I get a discount on my monthly MBTA (transit) pass?

A. Harvard University offers to benefits eligible faculty and staff a 50% subsidy for monthly MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority) passes (including boat, bus, subway and combo) and pre-tax savings on purchases of private transit passes and commuter checks up to the IRS pre-tax limit of $230. Passes are sold online or by submission of a paper form in limited cases. Log-in and sign up to automatically receive your monthly pass. As an added bonus, the price for the pass will be deducted from your pay check before taxes, which for many people will mean a final savings of approximately 35% depending upon their income tax bracket and withholdings.

Visit the CommuterChoice website and click on "Buy your MBTA pass Online." If you sign up by midnight on the first day of a given month, you can get your pass for the following month and beyond mailed to you automatically. You can still sign up anytime after that, but remember, the first pass you get in the mail will be for the month after that. For example, if you enroll on October 2, then a December pass is the first pass you can receive through the online program.

If you want to stop getting passes, or to change the kind of pass you receive, that's easy to do online. But in general, once you enroll, you won't have to think about it again unless you want to make a change.

For more information on the Transit Pass Program visit CommuterChoice.

Students at the some graduate schools can receive an 11% discount from the MBTA through the SemesterPass Program - Visit the CommuterChoice website for more information.

Q. How do I return my parking permit, and enroll in the three-month trial program for public transit?

A. If you would like to cancel your parking permit and begin receiving a discounted monthly MBTA pass, you must first return your parking permit to the Parking Services office. When you turn in your parking permit, please be sure to tell the Parking office staff that you are returning your permit because you would like to participate in the three-month trial program for the discounted MBTA pass. You are eligible to get a temporary parking permit for the remainder of the month in which you cancel parking. You may also choose to get a temporary parking permit for the following month while the transition takes place. The Parking Services and CommuterChoice staff will assist you in this process. If you would like more information about this procedure, please contact the CommuterChoice office at 617 384-RIDE.

Q. How can commuters find information about Harvard Shuttle Services?

A. For more information, please visit Transit & Fleet, or call 617 495-0400. For schedule information, please visit ShuttleTracker.

Q. When does the discount start if a person decides to carpool?

A. If the Parking office receives the necessary carpool registration by the 15th of the month, the discount is applied beginning that month.

Q. If I currently have parking and am considering starting a carpool, what will happen if the carpool disperses?

A. You will receive your parking permit back and resume at the full rate. The person who did not have parking will have to put on a wait list.

Q. I am currently on the wait list for parking and would like to carpool. Would I receive consideration for parking?

A. Yes, we will accommodate this request in the facility that has available spaces.

Q. If I carpool, what do I do on the occasional days I need to bring in my own vehicle?

A. If you register your vehicle with Parking Services, you will receive two courtesy temporary permits for each month.

Q. If I carpool, what would happen in case I needed to leave work in an emergency situation?

A. If you live within 17 miles from work we will issue you a courtesy taxi voucher. If you live beyond that distance, we will arrange pick-up from an outside service.

Q. How long will it take to set up a carpool permit?

A. The carpool packet takes approximately 3-5 business days to prepare.

Q. If I have a reserved permit, am I eligible for a carpool discount?

A. No, only unreserved parking is eligible for the discounted fee.

Q. When is the Parking Services office open?

A. Parking Services is located in the Campus Service Center and hours of operation are generally Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The office is closed on holidays observed by the University. Please see the footer on this page for any updates on the Campus Service Center hours. However, rules and regulations are enforced by parking monitors and Harvard University police 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

Q. Is there a way to get a ride to my parking location if I work late and don't want to walk in the dark?

A. The Evening Van Service (fully accessible) is designed to transport faculty, staff, and students safely about the campus area as a supplement to the shuttle bus system. The service operates between 7:00 p.m. and 2:30 a.m., seven days a week throughout the entire year, including summer and break periods. No advance arrangements are needed. However, the last call for a ride must be received by 2:30 a.m. For more information, or to request a ride, please call 495.0400.

Q. I've heard that enforcement of parking regulations will be more stringent. What does this mean?

A. Parking Services has expanded its parking enforcement program. Improvements deter non-permit holders and preserve the rights of permit holders to access Harvard parking facilities, while maintaining safety and reliability. Improvements include:

Parking Fines

    • Fines equivalent to City of Cambridge fees to deter non-affiliates from parking on Harvard property.

Non-renewal of Permits

    • All permit holders who have outstanding violation balances equal to or greater than $75.00 will need to clear their balance to zero before renewing for parking.

24-Hour Parking Enforcement

    • Parking policies on Harvard University's Allston and Cambridge campuses are strictly enforced 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
    • Increased patrols and increased amount of ticketing/towing of illegally parked vehicles.

Q. What precautions are being taken to maintain security within parking areas?

A. In addition to the programs mentioned above, which will result in increased safety and reliability in Harvard parking facilities, Parking Services is undertaking the following new security measures: 

Additional Monitoring of Harvard Parking Lots

    • Increased monitor staff
    • 24-hour coverage, including weekends
    • Increased ticketing of non-affiliates
    • Increased work with Harvard University Police to monitor lots and tow illegal vehicles.

Updated Access Control

    • State of the art technology has been installed in many of our facilities and any that will be coming on line in the future
    • Easier access
    • Better security

Improved Facility Safety Features

    • Increased lighting
    • Restoration work

Q. Is there any assistance if my vehicle doesn't start while in a Harvard University parking lot?

A. The Harvard University Motorist Assistance Program (M.A.P.) provides free on-campus emergency road service to all faculty, staff, students, and visitors of the University on the Allston and Cambridge campuses. This service offers assistance to motorists who need help charging a dead battery, changing a tire, or retrieving keys that have been locked inside a vehicle. If a more serious problem occurs, the M.A.P. service will help in securing the appropriate assistance. The M.A.P. service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. To contact the M.A.P. service, call 617 496-HELP (4357).

Q. What should I do if my designated parking area is full?

A. In this situation, please proceed to the unreserved parking area closest to your designated parking area. Please contact Parking Services and a parking monitor will inspect the filled area for vehicles not displaying a permit. These vehicles will be cited, and may be towed.

Q. What should I do if a car is illegally parked in my reserved parking space?

A. During office hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday) you should park your car in the next available unreserved parking area and immediately call the Parking Services office at 617 496-7827. Please do not park in someone else's reserved parking space. A parking monitor will verify the illegally-parked car, will attempt to have the owner move the car and, if necessary, will tow the vehicle out of your reserved space. After hours, weekends and University holidays, park your car in the next available unreserved parking area and call the University Police, who may be able to clear the space for you.

Q. I believe I received a Harvard parking violation in error. What should I do to appeal the citation?

A. If you believe a citation was issued incorrectly, you may choose to enter an appeal. In order to be considered, all appeals must be submitted in writing within 21 days of the citation's issuance date to the Parking Services office. View a printable version of the Citation Appeal Form. Please note: Late fees are assessed after 21 days if the citation has not been paid or appealed within that time.

Q. What does the new construction mean in terms of parking and transportation access to the campus?

A. Since much of the construction will occur on surface parking lots, existing spaces may be temporarily or permanently displaced, requiring commuters to change their parking facility or method of transportation. New underground parking garages are being developed and will be designed to maintain the integrity of the campuses in Cambridge and Allston while minimizing disruption and inconvenience.

Q. What provisions will be made for interim parking during the construction periods?

A. Parking Services has created a number of programs to increase commuting options for Harvard affiliates during development and construction. Individuals whose parking spaces have been temporarily displaced are given access to spaces in alternative locations. Certain parking facilities have started to use unreserved parking, and complimentary valet services may be offered to minimize any inconvenience associated with the ongoing new development on campus.

To review the number of commuting alternatives the Transportation Services Department provides, you are also encouraged to go to the CommuterChoice website.

Q. How will commuters be informed about changes to parking facilities?

A. Parking Services has several systems in place to inform University affiliates about changes to parking facilities. Each University department has a member of the faculty or staff who serves as a Transportation Coordinator. These individuals serve voluntarily and communicate the procedures and policies of Harvard University Transportation Services - including changes to parking facilities - to their respective departments.

In addition, commuters are notified through e-mail, regular mail, and University publications of these changes. Commuters may also view the University Operations Services Transportation Advisories as well as the CommuterChoice website to review this information.

Q. There was a technical error with my computer and I was unable to print out the permit from the self service Daily Parking Permit purchasing system. Can I print it out later?

A. Yes. This sometimes occurs when purchasers complete the order through the PayPal site which may not redirect users back to the online purchasing system. If this should happen, simply log back in to the self service Daily Parking Permit site, click on "My Account" then "Account History". This will list all permits that the user has purchased and allow the user to print the permit(s). Please note: permits that have already expired cannot be printed.

Q. I don’t have a PayPal account but it appears that you can only use PayPal to purchase a permit online. Can I still purchase this without going through PayPal?

A. Yes. While it isn’t entirely obvious, self service Daily Parking Permit purchasing system users can pay by debit or credit card at the PayPal site. There is a section that alerts those who don’t have accounts with PayPal that they can use a either to pay for their permit (as per the image below).

PayPal Credit Card Options

 

Q. I lost connection while trying to purchase a permit and now the site says the permit was already added for the date I was purchasing it for. What happened?

A. The permit is now “reserved” in your account however no funds were received for it. To obtain that permit, simply click on “My Permits” and the permit(s) you were attempting to purchase will be seen there. You can then resume purchasing, remove the permit(s) that aren’t needed or simply check out. Please note: if the date of a permit that is in the “My Permits” section has expired, it will automatically be removed from your account.

Q. My license plate I listed on the online permit doesn’t match the vehicle I brought in. Am I going to be in trouble?

A. It’s not uncommon for a vehicle to experience trouble (e.g. involved in accident, windshield replacement, miscellaneous repairs) and a permit holder to have to bring a new vehicle. Should this happen, please contact our office via email with the new vehicle information (i.e. plate, make, color) so we can contact the Field Supervisor who will alert the field about this.

Q. I am obtaining a vehicle from another source (e.g. rental company, family member) so I don’t know the license plate. Can I still use the online site?

A. In order to use the self service Daily Parking Permit purchasing system, the license plate of the vehicle is required. You will need this information prior to purchasing.

Q. I forgot my login name and/or password. How do I obtain this information?

A. Visitors may click here for assistance.

Q.  I keep getting an error message when trying to pay for my permit order. How can I complete the transaction?

A.  Recent updated versions of select web browsers may not support the One Day Online Permit Purchasing System. If you are receiving an error message when trying being re-directed to the PayPal site, you can try to use a different web browser (i.e. Firefox, Safari, et cetera). If you are still experiencing difficulty, you can certainly contact our main office for assistance.

 

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