Thursday, November 7, 2019


Being able to drive around in a car is convenient, but one of the most vexing things about it is often finding a place to put the car when you're done driving it. In other words, parking shortages. I've fantasized about inventing a car that you can fold up and put in your pocket when you're done using it. That it would still weigh a ton is only one of the problems with this fantasy.

One place where parking was tolerable but has recently become much worse is the San Jose airport. I learned from today's edition of "Mr. Roadshow," the newspaper's traffic Q&A column, that the off-airport lot I've been using for years and years has closed. It's a sad story, and not just for the feral cats that lived there and enlivened our visits. They used to have a different and superior lot, then they closed that and moved to this rather ratty one (in more than one sense, hence the cats), on the major road that runs behind the airport. This is just down the street from SJ's major league soccer stadium, which can be a problem as I learned the time I needed to arrive at the airport just before a game. (I also learned that the parking lot was renting some of its spaces to game patrons.) Then the construction of new buildings arrived, and half the parking lot closed. Now, it turns out, the other half has closed. (The letter-writer said only "it appears they have closed," presumably from driving past an already rather enigmatic-looking entrance, but I checked the vendor's website and it's true.)

The columnist says that the airport is building more on-site parking, but it will take a while, and they'll have to close some of their existing parking for construction.

I'm going to note down here the options that I can think of. I'm recording this more for my own notes than for reading, but in order to head off "Why don't you just ...?" questions, I'll begin with some I'm ruling out.

1. Take a shuttle. No. I turned to off-airport parking in the first place after some horrible experiences with commercial shuttles.

2. Take a taxi/rideshare. Expensive, as we're over ten miles from the airport. Only in an emergency, dahlink.

3. Take public transit. Theoretically possible, but there's no long-term parking around the transit stations here either. Even more theoretically, I could take the (infrequent) bus that stops behind my house, transfer to another (infrequent) bus, transfer to the commuter train, and then transfer to the shuttle bus to the airport, but that sounds awkward with luggage and would take a very long time, and probably be impractical with an early-morning departure or late-night arrival.

4. Have someone drive me. Really there's only B, so it'd only work when I'm traveling alone, and she hates to drive, especially maneuvering around crowded airports. We've tried it, but it really doesn't work.

5. On-site parking. Definitely possible. Some of the lots are often full, but at least the airport has a web page giving real-time status. The lots run $18/day up, and the most expensive garage is $38/day and right next to one of the terminals. For a trip of only a couple of days, that's manageable, and I've actually used this recently for short trips, because it's actually easier to get your luggage there than taking the shuttle out to the off-airport lot, because the airport keeps moving the pickup zone farther and farther out to make more and more room for Uber and Lyft.

6. A different off-airport lot. I know there are some, because I see their shuttle buses at the pickup zone. But I can't find them online (googling "sjc parking" produces mostly third-party links to the one that's closed) and I don't remember their names, which are very non-specific. Here's what I might do, but I'll wait till after the holidays to do it. (I'm not flying anywhere for quite a while.) I'll drive down to the airport and go sit in the pickup zone for a while, write down the names from the shuttle buses and then go look them up. Sometimes getting your info from the real world instead of online is a really good idea.

7. A different airport. Most emphatically possible. SFO is only 30 miles away, they have a really efficient off-airport lot that I always use when I fly there, and sometimes, despite the greater distance and greater size of the airport, it's more convenient to use it anyway. For instance, I used it to fly to Calgary because SFO has nonstops and SJC doesn't.

So those are my options, recorded for future use.


  1. I've had the same issue. My solution is to park at one of the hotels that offers airport parking for a fee to non-guests (Holiday Inn, DoubleTree, or Four Seasons). Unfortunately their shuttles typically only run every thirty minutes, so that costs some time. I had a bad experience once at one of the remaining off-airport lots, so I don't go there.

  2. Followup to my previous comment: I just booked parking for an upcoming trip, using Way dot com which shows me multiple available lots, and it looks like Park 'N' Travel is back, at a new location on Brokaw Road and possibly under new ownership.

    Also, I listed an incorrect hotel name in the previous comment. It's Four Points, not Four Seasons.