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Published: Saturday, 2/18/2006

$1 increase in rates for parking pondered

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Four years ago, to justify raising the maximum daily rate for long-term parking at Toledo Express Airport from $5 to $6, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority officials said the local charges were lower than those at most comparable airports.

That's still the case, and now the port authority is proposing another $1-a-day parking-rate increase, this time for both the short-term and long-term lots.

Airport Director Paul Toth recommended the daily maximum for the close-in lot rise from $8 to $9 and the long-term daily charge rise to $7. Less-than-daily charges, which start at $2 in both lots for between 15 minutes and two hours, would not change.

The port authority's airport committee voted 4-0 to approve the rate increase, sending it to the full board of directors for consideration. The board of directors meets on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Detroit Metropolitan-Wayne County Airport raised the daily rate for its economy Blue Deck garage from $6 to $7, and it charges $25 for daily parking in its short-term lot and $15 for daily parking in the long-term section of the garage at McNamara Terminal.

Along with the $25 and $15 rates at Port Columbus International Airport, those are the highest in the comparison pool Mr. Toth presented, while the $7-to-$4 daily maximums at MBS International Airport near Bay City, Mich., were the lowest.

"Even with this increase, there's only one airport that's below us," Mr. Toth said.

Missing from the comparison airports were Bishop International Airport in Flint, Mich., and Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport. While each charges a $10 daily maximum for short-term parking, their long-term lots are cheaper than Toledo's at $5.50 a day, and Bishop has an economy lot with $4.25 daily and $25 weekly rates.

Mr. Toth said the comparison data was compiled by Republic Parking, the contractor that operates the Toledo Express lots.

Opie Rollison, an airport panel member, questioned if a $7 daily maximum at Toledo's long-term lot would worsen its competitive position against Metro, from which many Toledo travelers already fly. But Mr. Toth said parking rates are not a major factor in travelers' airport choice.

"Nobody picks their flights based on the parking rates. It's based on nonstops and low fares," the airport director said.

Nadeem Salem, the airport committee's chairman, predicted no opposition when the rate hike goes before the port board.

Also, the airport committee recommended board approval to continue a $1-a-day fee on airport vehicle rentals that fund improvements for related facilities at Toledo Express.

The fee was instituted to pay for canopies and parking lot improvements; now the airport's vehicle renters have asked the port authority to consider a common-use maintenance facility so that each does not have to maintain its own cleaning and fueling sites near the airport.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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