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2 Guidebook for Evaluating Airport Parking Strategies and Supporting Technologies realization that their inability to readily find an empty parking space or other minor delays may cause them to arrive too late to check baggage, claim a reserved seat, store their baggage in an overhead compartment, greet an arriving passenger, or--in an extreme case--miss a flight. Thus, airport parking customers are less tolerant of long waits for a shuttle bus, long searches for an empty space, long walks to/from a terminal, and long entrance or exit delays. Airport customers use facilities infrequently. Compared to customers who park in office, university, hospital, or downtown parking facilities, airport parking customers rarely park at the airport because most airline passengers fly fewer than four times a year. As a result, they may be unfamiliar with the current parking fees and services, the shortest vehicular and pedes- trian circulation paths, or the optimum parking location to meet their needs. Because they travel infrequently, it may take these customers several months to recognize and respond to changes in parking fees, services, or products. Thus, airport parking operators may require 4 months or more to evaluate how customers are responding to new parking fees, services, or products. Some customers may be intimidated by structured parking or a large parking system with multiple choices, particularly at airports that draw customers from a region or community containing few multilevel parking facilities. Airport customers park for long durations. Airport customers often park for several days, or occasionally several weeks, while users of other public parking facilities rarely park for more than 8 hours. Airport customers parking for longer than 24 hours (i.e., long-duration cus- tomers) typically account for less than 30% of all entering and exiting vehicles, but occupy more than 70% of all parking spaces and generate most of the parking revenues. Some long-duration customers, particularly those who travel infrequently, forget where they parked their vehicles and require assistance from airport staff to locate their vehicles. As described in Chapter 4 of this guidebook, the needs of customers parking for short durations (especially those parking for less than 4 hours) must be accommodated to minimize congestion on curbside roadways and recirculating traffic volumes. Airport customers pay higher fees. Airport parking rates are often higher than, or equivalent to, those in downtown parking facilities. Because of these rates and multiple-day parking stays, air- port parking customers frequently pay higher fees than customers parking in other public park- ing facilities. It is not unusual for airport parking customers to pay more than $25 for the use of airport parking facilities, which is uncommon in public parking facilities in all but a few large cities. Airport customers pay these fees because (1) the cost of parking represents a small percent- age of the total door-to-door travel cost (e.g., airfares, rental car charges, lodging, and other costs), (2) they place high value on time and convenience (particularly those traveling on business pur- poses), and (3) some have no option other than driving to, and parking at, the airport. Distinguishing Characteristics of Airport Parking Operators Some of the characteristics that distinguish the operators of airport parking facilities from those operating other publicly owned parking facilities include the following: Emphasis on customer service. Airports, which often serve as the gateway to a community or region, represent a visiting passenger's first or last impression of a community. Similarly, air- port parking facilities may provide a resident's first or last impression of the local airport. As a result, airport operators seek to provide customers with higher levels of service than those provided at most other public parking facilities. Therefore, airports are often the first location for implementing many innovative parking products, services, and technologies. Need to be financially self sustainable. Federal law in the United States requires that commercial-service airports be as financially self-sustaining as possible. To meet their financial obligations, airport operators rely on revenues from (1) airlines, including landing fees, termi-