It may seem contrary to suggest that charging for parking at a university is actually a way of keeping costs down, but you’d be surprised how much Parking and Transportation services (along with other auxiliary services) keep operational costs down.
In the case of parking and transportation, a department becomes self-sufficient and eventually profitable if it can pump those funds into its own operations for upgrades and sustainability. This in-turn lowers the impact that offering those services has on the campus community.
When you couple those benefits with the idea that most campuses will often offer up venues and parking during the summer and fall breaks for events you can really start to see some positive effects. Off-season events also require parking, providing jobs for students and serving as an additional asset to the community the school is surrounded by.
It’s also helpful to understand that on any given day, a significant amount of users of campus parking and transportation services are not even students or faculty, but visitors from outside the system that are contributing to the funding with their passes or fares.
So while it may seem that the parking permits and fees are sometimes just a way to collect more revenue, it’s often the case that the parking and transportation services actually reduce costs altogether.