I once long ago interviewed at a prominent Midwestern university (not my current employer) and had an associate dean opine “We are the only prominent business school at which parking is not a problem.” My immediate thought (which went unuttered) was “I’m not sure that is anything to brag about.”
In any event, university parking presents an interesting capacity management problem. There are multiple classes of users who have varying needs and varying abilities to pay. But land and thus parking spots (or at least convenient parking spots) are always limited. Northwestern deals with this in part by assigning lots to faculty vs. students, charging different prices, and having different rules depending on the time of day. Indeed, if you live too close to campus you may not be allowed to buy a parking pass.
The one thing that NU doesn’t do is run an auction. That gets us Chapman University which does in fact auction parking permits. In this video (from reason.tv), David Porter, an econ professor from Chapman who helped design the auction, talks about their experience with this mechanism. It is an interesting discussion of both demand management as well as managing expectations in a service environment.
That last phrase is, of course, a way of saying they pissed off faculty.