Navigating Pitt’s parking puzzle

OC LotAre there any secrets for navigating the wait list for a Pitt parking spot? Is the University finding anywhere new for parkers who discover their favorite lot gone?

As a pre-fall primer, Jeff Yeaman, senior manager in the Department of Parking, Transportation and Services, answered our questions on the state of parking at Pitt, supplemented by information from department head Kevin Sheehy.

The bad news is that the waiting list for parking currently has 1,830 people, and it takes two to three years for wait-listed employees to hit number one. The good news is that, in effect, every parking lot has its own waiting list, based on its availability – and half the people offered parking when they reach the top of the list ultimately say no.

What can parking hopefuls expect from the waiting list?

“We do have parking available,” Yeaman says. “It’s just not in the locations people would prefer.”

The greatest availability and largest turnover of parking spots occur in the OC lot behind the Petersen Events Center and in another upper campus location, the Tower View Garage. (For parking locations, see Pitt’s parking map.) If either of those is your first choice – or an acceptable last resort, among the three choices you're allowed – then you’re in luck. If you're waiting for one of Mervis Hall’s three spots, that’s another story, Yeaman says.

Pitt's parking map

Every two weeks, Yeaman’s office offers new parking permits to those at the top of the waiting list. On average, 80 people are given the chance to purchase new permits biweekly, but about half turn those permits down in favor of other parking or alternative transportation arrangements they’ve already secured.

Yeaman suggests that new employees pick one of the two upper campus locations as their third parking choice. Refusing to take a third-choice spot is acceptable, he says – it doesn’t get people removed from the waiting list. Turn down a first or second choice, however, and it’s back to the end of the line.

Have there been any changes lately in the numbers and locations of Pitt parking spots?

Parking at Pitt has been steady for at least the last three years. There are 4,135 University-controlled parking spaces in 19 garages and 40 surface lots in the core Oakland campus and surrounding area. These include leased spaces and spots for transient parkers (those choosing to pay cash for a day’s parking).

Private lots frequently used by Pitt staff, faculty and students have certainly undergone changes – such as a private lot in Panther Hollow recently sold to Duquesne Light Company and closed – but such facilities are outside Pitt’s control, Yeaman says.

Are there any new garages or lots coming? 

While nothing is slated for opening or purchase at the moment, “we are always looking for available property,” Yeaman says. “Any time anything goes up for sale, I’m looking.”

How early do some of the transient lots fill up once students are back in the fall?

During the fall and spring terms, the most popular lot with spaces for daily cash customers – Soldiers and Sailors Garage – is full by 9:30 a.m. The Panther Hollow and OC lot transient spaces fill much earlier – around 7 a.m. O’Hara Garage is another option for those without parking leases.  

Do people in certain job classifications automatically get spaces?

“We encourage everyone to use the waiting list,” Yeaman says, but “various departments do have department permits at their disposal” for new hires in top positions.

What alternatives to parking here are growing in popularity?

Pitt offers a carpool matching service through for employees and students. Registered carpools are eligible for permit parking discounts. There are 400 carpools today, as well as eight vanpools of up to 15 people each. Their advantage over carpools?  Free parking on campus.

Staff, faculty and students also may ride all Port Authority buses and other vehicles for free with their Pitt IDs. Ridership has increased 9 percent over the past five years, proving the service’s popularity.

Any secrets or special tips for Pitt parking?

Alas, there is no magic wand to get most Pitt employees an immediate parking space.

“When new hires come on board, I encourage them to sign up immediately on our waiting list – that is priority number one,” Yeaman says.

Parkers also can get up-to-date parking information on the parking department’s Facebook page and Twitter account (@pittparking), and receive notices about snow and road conditions from MyPitt’s Emergency Notification Service.



Marty Levine,, 412-758-4859