Advertisement

Ask some passengers

June 09, 1997

Would charging for parking affect usage of Washington County's Regional Airport? County Commissioner Ron Bowers says it could. Chris Howley, vice president of a Tennessee firm that wants to run an airport parking concession says it wouldn't. We hope somebody gets around to asking some actual passengers before a decision is made.

The issue was raised at last week's county commissioner meeting when Howley proposed that Republic Parking implement and operate paid parking toll booths. Installation would cost $64,000, which would enable the booths to be manned 19 hours per day.

Howley proposed charging $4 a day, or $20 a week maximum, and a sample contract he presented would provide his company with the first $50,000 in revenue. The more revenue received, the greater the county's share would be, with the airport getting 85 percent of everything over $150,000.

Now to generate $150,000 in parking fees, the airport would have to play host to either 37,500 passengers who parked for one day apiece, or 7,500 who parked for a week. That's certainly possible, since there were 34,370 outgoing passengers in 1996.

Advertisement

Should the airport do that, or would the per-passenger surcharge of $2.45 suggested by Commissioner Ron Bowers be a better idea? Under Federal Aviation Administration rules, a simple "head tax" is out, but the airport could enact a "passenger facility charge" or PFC. Getting that in place requires joint action with an airline, a public hearing and about a nine-month wait.

The good news about this charge is that is a passenger is traveling through a series of airports, only the first two can charge such a fee. If Washington County enacted the fee, it wouldn't cost the traveler anything extra. It would deprive another airport somewhere down the line of collecting the fee.

The downside of the PFC is that its proceeds can only be used for capital expenses, and not to offset daily operating costs. For that reason, airport officials want further study of the paid-parking plan. By all means, do study it, but don't forget to ask the people who'll be paying it whether they'll be indifferent or indignant over a new fee.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|