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Published: Saturday, 9/7/2002

Detroit airport simplifies parking

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ROMULUS, Mich. - If you have been one of the Detroit Metropolitan-Wayne County Airport travelers lucky enough to score a parking space in the $8 economy section of the new parking garage at McNamara Terminal, expect to pay more next time you fly.

But if you have been one of the unfortunates who found the economy section full and ended up in the $13-per-day long-term section, expect to pay less in the future.

Anyone willing to take a shuttle from the airport's old parking garage can land a bigger bargain if they print a Web-site coupon first.

Metro Airport officials yesterday announced a simplification of parking rates at the McNamara Terminal garage, opened in February along with the terminal itself. Effective tomorrow, the 8,000 spaces that previously had been divided into a 5,000-space long-term section and a 3,000-space economy section will be unified, with a $10-per-day charge.

“Every day, we would have customers turned away from economy parking,” Airport Director Lester Robinson said. “They would end up parking in the daily section at a higher rate and be disappointed.”

Economy parking costing $8 per day will remain available in the airport's Red, Green, and Yellow lots near the Smith Terminal, necessitating a shuttle ride to the McNamara. More than 65 percent of passengers whose trips begin or end at Metro use the McNamara, which serves Northwest, Northwest Airlink, Continental, Continental Express, KLM, and Lufthansa flights.

The McNamara parking deck has a total of 11,500 parking spaces, with 3,500 devoted to short-term parking ($25-per-day maximum) and valet parking ($26 per day, flat rate).

The new terminal's opening has eased demand at the airport's older (“Blue”) parking garage so much that airport officials have been able to install new lights, re-stripe, and clean the facility, Mr. Robinson said.

Metro Airport's Web site, metroairport.com, now offers a coupon valid for $6 off the daily $13 parking rate at the Blue garage only. With the coupon, the old facility offers the cheapest parking on the airport grounds.

Free shuttles transfer passengers from the Blue garage and Red, Yellow, and Green lots directly to the McNamara Terminal. Shuttle boarding in the Blue garage is on the first and third levels, Michael Conway, airport spokesman, said.

The Web-site coupon now available is valid through Nov. 8. If the coupon program is successful - but not overly successful - the expiration date likely will be extended in the future, Mr. Conway said.



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