Tompkins Weekly

October, town-gown, campus access

Dr. Joyce Brothers was the convocation speaker for Cornell University in May 1988. Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel

There are months on East Hill where activity at many levels is more pronounced, including public and virtual events. October may be at the top of the list, with this month including an exhibit highlighting the life of the late Cornell alum Dr. Joyce Brothers, to initiatives tied to free speech, open space, textiles, art and meditation.

Related, for those who visit campus infrequently, one question usually tops the others: Where do I park?

For sure I get it, as I worked downtown for 10 years in the newspaper business, and there were times I would just walk up, for lack of a better phrase. This despite the fact that in the latter stages of my journalism career, Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) had been developed.

For folks new to town, TCAT was created from a consolidation of the three transit agencies:

  • Ithaca Transit (originally Community Transit System), which was started by the City in 1962 as a municipal bus system;
  • CU Transit, which was started by Cornell in 1966 as a campus shuttle bus system.
  • TOMTRAN, which was started by the County in 1981 as a rural transit system to maintain access to rural-based labor forces in Tompkins and, via a contract with Tioga Transport, Tioga County.

On the Cornell parking question, some basics:

Monday through Friday, payment required. Recommended parking near the Martin Y. Tang Welcome Center is available at Toboggan Lodge(GPS address can be entered as 38 Forest Home Drive,  Ithaca.) and Forest Home Drive Parking Garage. Options for paid parking are below   

Pay for parking in advance. If you scheduled your visit online, please use your unique parking access code provided in your visit confirmation email. If you plan to rent a car, please note that vehicle information is optional when purchasing a pass in advance. Be sure to bring your printed parking permit with you to display on your dashboard while parked. If you forget your printed permit, you may purchase parking on campus after you arrive.

Pay for parking after you arrive via Pay-by-Cell. Create a Parkmobile account, download the mobile app, or textPARK to 77223and start a parking session once you’re on campus.     

Pay-by-license-plate pay stations are located throughout campus. Cash and credit cards accepted.  

At Cornell, on weekends, there is free parking near the Tang Welcome Center at Toboggan Lodge and Forest Home Drive Parking Garage. The Hoy Road Parking Garage on central campus is also available to weekend visitors. Parking permits for these locations are not required on weekends but please be aware of signage and restricted spaces.   

For additional information, visitors may contact the Office of Visitor Relations at (607) 254-4636 (INFO) and Office of Transportations at(607) 255-4600Monday through Friday.   

Finally, TCAT public transit bus routes run throughout campus and are available for $1.50 per ride, cash only. I am a proud member of the TCAT Board of Directors, and available to answer any or all questions, or steer you in the right direction. Same for any queries regarding the Ithaca-Tompkins International Airport, where I serve on the county’s Air Services Board.

As always,  hope to see you on campus or in town, and thanks for reading East Hill Notes.


East Hill Notes are published the week of each month in Tompkins Weekly. Suggestions for column topics always welcome. Finger Lakes native Gary Stewart is an associate vice president at Cornell University, reachable at or 607-227-5531.

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