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This Guidebook for Evaluating Airport Parking Strategies and Supporting Technologies describes a broad range of parking strategies and supporting technologies that have been used by the opera- tors of airport and other public parking facilities to provide a high level of customer service, enhance revenues, improve operational efficiency, and achieve other relevant management objectives. As used in this guidebook, the term parking strategy refers to the entire spectrum of parking products, value-added services, rates and rate structures, safety and security features, and the tech- niques used to control parking revenue, promote operational efficiency, manage capacity, and bal- ance facility use. Many of these strategies can be enhanced through the application of supporting technologies. The term, technologies refers to parking access and revenue control systems, ticket and ticketless payment systems, vehicle detection and guidance systems, parking reservation sys- tems, and other parking-related hardware and software. Purpose of the Guidebook This guidebook is intended to help airport management and the operators of airport parking facilities compare and contrast various parking strategies and supporting technologies to achieve their specific objectives. The information provided herein may be used to evaluate and select poten- tial strategies and their applications considering the specifics of the airport and its customers. The objectives of airport parking operators, as described in the following section, differ from those of the operators of other parking facilities because airport parking customers differ from those using hospital, university, office, center city, or other public parking facilities. The information contained in this guidebook is applicable to the operators of all commercial service airports regardless of location, passenger volumes, customer demographics, and parking facility size or configuration. The guidebook can be used by the managers of all airports regard- less of their goals or objectives. As such, it presents a broad range of potential strategies and tech- nologies, not all of which are applicable to every airport. Distinguishing Characteristics of Airport Parking Customers Some of the characteristics that distinguish the customers of airport parking facilities from the customers of other public parking facilities include the following: â¢ Airport customers are concerned about flights. Airport parking customers are likely under greater stress than the customers of most other parking facilities. This stress results from the 1 C H A P T E R 1 Overview of the Guidebook
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, orâin an extreme caseâmiss 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. â¢ 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. â¢ 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. â¢ 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: â¢ Emphasis on customer service. Airports, which often serve as the gateway to a community or region, represent a visiting passengerâs first or last impression of a community. Similarly, air- port parking facilities may provide a residentâs 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. â¢ 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- 2 Guidebook for Evaluating Airport Parking Strategies and Supporting Technologies
nal rents, and other charges and (2) concessionaires and other non-airline tenants (e.g., in- terminal food and retail concessions, rental car companies, ground transportation providers, and public parking facilities). As shown in Figure 1.1, the single largest revenue source at U.S. airports is usually public parking, representing approximately 25% of all airport revenues and more than 40% of non-airline revenues. Often, surplus revenues generated from public park- ing provide cash flow to support other airport functions (e.g., general aviation, public areas of terminals) that either generate no income or require subsidies. Surplus parking revenues also represent the single largest source of debt-free cash flow to fund airport capital improvements. At some airports, parking revenues are shared with the airlines, which helps attract new airline service or maintain existing service by reducing airline costs. â¢ Larger parking facilities required. Typically, over 1,000 parking spaces are provided at commercial-service airports, and over 15,000 public spaces are provided at several large-hub airports. Most of the very large parking structures in the United States (e.g., those with over 5,000 spaces) are on airport grounds. These large parking facilities are required to accommodate the needs of airline passengers traveling in private vehicles (typically over 70% of all passengers) and those who park at the airport for multiple days. â¢ Large amount of revenue handled. Annual parking revenues are frequently over $10 million at small-hub airports and over $100 million at the largest airports. Although all parking operators strive to minimize theft and fraud, this objective is particularly important to airport operators because of the magnitude of the revenues, their importance to airport operations, and the neg- ative implications (and potential high profile) of theft or fraud associated with such losses in a public agency. Therefore, airport parking operators often use state-of-the art procedures and technologies to protect and control their revenues. Methodology The information contained in this guidebook was gathered by identifying innovative parking strategies and technologies, and then conducting interviews with nearly 100 individuals and agencies familiar with the strategies. Those interviewed included employees at airports in the United States, Canada, and Europe; parking equipment manufacturers and vendors; private parking operators; parking consultants; and others. The information contained in the interviews Overview of the Guidebook 3 Source: FAA, AAS-400, CATS, Report Form 5100-127. Figure 1.1. Revenue sources at U.S. airports.
was supplemented by a comprehensive literature search, which is summarized in the bibliogra- phy presented in Appendix D. The information in this guidebook was verified to the extent possible through interviews with multiple sources. As such, the data describing the costs and benefits of the strategies represent the best data available during the research period. However, limited or no data were available for those strategies that have only been implemented by private parking operators or at privately operated airport parking facilities. Similarly, some strategies have been implemented at only one or two airports and, again, limited or no data were available at the time this guidebook was prepared. Finally, the information contained in this guidebook is current as of spring 2009. After com- pletion and publication of the guidebook, it is expected that (1) additional strategies and tech- nologies not described or anticipated will be introduced, (2) additional airport parking operators will implement some of the listed strategies (and be able to describe their experiences), and (3) some strategies in use at airports mentioned in the guidebook may be discontinued. Organization of the Guidebook Subsequent chapters of the guidebook describe the following: â¢ Documenting the goals of airport management and using those goals to evaluate potential strategies (Chapter 2), â¢ Assessing customer needs and preferences (Chapter 3), â¢ Potential parking strategies and supporting technologies organized in eight functional categories (Chapter 4), â¢ Selecting potential strategies and supporting technologies (Chapter 5), â¢ Evaluating potential strategies and supporting technologies (Chapter 6), â¢ Key implementation steps (Chapter 7), â¢ Estimated costs of implementing, operating, and maintaining a strategy (Appendix A), â¢ Glossary of terms (Appendix B), â¢ Suggested sources for further information (Appendix C), and â¢ Bibliography (Appendix D). 4 Guidebook for Evaluating Airport Parking Strategies and Supporting Technologies