The University of Pittsburgh is one of the few schools that allows freshmen to bring cars. Most students who do bring cars are given parking passes for the OC lot—the area on upper campus near the athletic facilities. While this is a low-traffic area that avoids the congestion of central Oakland, the OC can be quite a hike. Unless you’re living in Sutherland Hall, Pennsylvania Hall, Panther Hall, or one of the frat houses, you’re going to have to climb “Cardiac Hill” whenever you want to get to your car. The cost of permits doesn’t justify this walk for many students, and it definitely detracts from the convenience of having a car. By 5 p.m. weeknights, and all day on weekends, most of the lots on campus open up to anyone with a permit. Without a permit, you’re stuck with street parking or public garages. Metered parking is free after 6 p.m., but this is too late to matter for most students who try to drive to campus. Parking in Pittsburgh isn’t convenient at all—the streets tend to be small and crowded, and it’s difficult to be sure where you can safely leave your car. If you have an off-campus house or apartment, it’s a good idea to make sure there will be adequate parking before you sign your lease.
Overall, the cost and inconvenience of parking at Pitt makes it too much to bother with for most students. Public transportation is free for Pitt students, and buses will take you almost everywhere you’ll need to go. While a car can be a great boon for escaping city limits on weekends, you have to weigh how much you’re actually going to do this against the effort of keeping a vehicle around. You’ll probably find that, for daily activities, a car is more trouble than it’s worth.