Parking designated for carpool or vanpool

This strategy involves prioritizing and reserving parking spaces for carpool or vanpool riders, and typically includes priority parking spots with easy access to a building entrance. This strategy is typically a transportation benefit for commuters; however, it is also used on city streets and in transit parking facilities. 

Key characteristics





WSDOT regions

Other names

  • Incentive parking

Strategy description

Designating parking spaces for shared rides is an incentive that prioritizes parking spots, typically close to a building entrance, and ensures a guaranteed parking space.  This incentive is most often implemented at places of employment with ample parking, but has also been implemented at transit-oriented developments, park and ride facilities, and on arterial streets. 

Designating carpool and vanpool parking spaces encourages drivers to share a ride, use their automobiles more efficiently, and reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles arriving at a single location. 

When to use this strategy

Designating parking spaces for carpools and vanpools makes sense when there is more demand for parking than there are parking spaces available, and there is a desire to increase incentives for carpooling and vanpooling.

Strategy benefits:

  • More efficient use of existing parking infrastructure.
  • Incentivizes carpooling and vanpooling, which increases person throughput on congested roadways, reducing travel times and improving travel time reliability.
  • Less costly to implement than constructing new parking infrastructure.

What you need in order to implement

Policy needs:

  • Policy, legislative, or municipal ordinance changes to allow designation of carpool and vanpool spaces at parking facilities.
  • Working with local agency staff to include designation of carpool and vanpool spaces as an option to mitigate traffic impacts of new developments.
  • Working with employer transportation coordinators to consider policies that make designating car and vanpool priority parking a transportation incentive. 
  • Working with transit and local agencies to develop parking policies that allow for designation of reserved carpool and vanpool parking spaces at transit oriented developments, park and ride facilities, and on local city streets.

Planning needs requires:

  • Analysis to understand existing parking inventory and usage patterns across the region and over time
  • Analysis of employees’ current transportation patterns and interest in carpooling and vanpooling to assess the current and potential market for these parking spaces.

Coordination needs:

  • Working with local businesses, developers, public agency parking operators, and others, for strategy implementation.
  • Collaborating with local businesses, political leadership, developers, and others on realizing the benefits of designating parking spaces for carpool and vanpool parking.
  • Coordination with enforcement agencies to address new parking enforcement procedures or needs

Learn more about this strategy

Best Workplaces for Commuters, United States Environmental Protection Agency: Implementing Commuter Benefits as One of the Nation’s Best Workplaces for Commuters.

Carpool Permits, Seattle Department of Transportation: An example of on-street parking spaces reserved for carpools that have obtained a carpool pass.

Preferential Parking for Carpools and Vanpools, Ride Amigos Academy: Summary of the benefits of reserving parking spaces for carpools and vanpools.

Ride Sharing Program, United States Department of Transportation: Summary of the benefits of reserving parking spaces for carpools and vanpools.

About key characteristics

Location notes:

Urbanized, suburban and downtown centers where there are opportunities to carpool or vanpool. This practice is typically implemented to mitigate parking demand; however, priority parking spots have also been used as a transportation incentive to employees

Cost notes:

Reserving parking spaces requires purchasing signs to indicate reserved parking spaces. 

Technology notes:

No technology is required for designating parking for carpools and vanpools.

Collaboration notes:

Designating parking for carpools and vanpools requires collaboration with local agencies, transit agencies, property managers and employee transportation coordinators, among others.