BWI to cut cost of parking at new, short-term garage But rate is rising at the satellite lots

March 26, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

In an effort to fill their spanking new, 4,600-space, short-term parking garage, Baltimore-Washington International Airport officials are lowering its daily rates next week to lure travelers going away on short trips who now tend to park at the cheaper satellite lots.

Starting Wednesday, the short-term garage's new daily rate will be cut to $12 from $15, and the satellite lots' daily rate will increase from $6 to $7, said Juliet Wright, a BWI spokeswoman.

Marilyn Corbett, another BWI spokeswoman, said that in recent weeks airport officials have had to open overflow parking lots after the satellite lots filled up. Meanwhile, the short-term garage has not reached capacity since its expansion was completed in September, Wright said.

"What we believe is happening is people aren't aware that we have more spaces in the garage, so they're using the satellite lot because they're used to it," Wright said. "We're trying to achieve a balance and make sure there's parking in every area."

Wright said travelers going on short trips also can park at the airport's new "Park N Walk" lot, which is 500 feet from the terminal and costs $9 a day. It opened last month.

This is not the first time BWI officials have used rates to manipulate parking patterns. In December 1994, Wright said, daily rates were increased in the short-term garage from $14 to $20 to deter people from parking there during its renovations -- in which sections of the garage would be closed.

Last September, when the expansion was complete, daily rates were lowered to $15 to encourage people to come back, Wright said.

Larry Donoghue, president of the Chicago-based Larry Donoghue Associates, a parking consultancy company that has compiled reports and surveys on airport parking, said the pricing strategy is a common one among airports because travelers are "extremely responsive" to parking price changes.

He said it usually takes about 90 days before the parking rate change starts affecting customer flow.

"People don't go to the airport every week, and it will be at least one trip to the airport before they will move to using the other lot," Donoghue said.

"Their first trip [after the price change], they'll incur the new high rate in the lot in which they used to park and they get shocked. Their next trip out, that person will reconsider."

Donoghue said BWI's new short-term daily rate is lower than the national median of about $14. He said Boston's Logan International Airport has the highest daily rate for short-term parking -- $50 -- while Phoenix has the lowest -- $5.50.

Neil M. Shpritz, executive director of the BWI Business Partnership Inc., said local business travelers will definitely welcome BWI's new rate.

The short-term garage "makes it easier for the traveler flying out for the one-day business trip just to park and run to his or her airplane," Shpritz said. "And, at $12, it becomes a very good buy."

Pub Date: 3/26/98

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