Felicia Brown drives to Lambert Field often enough to know that short-term parking can be a hassle.
"It's always hard to find a place near the entrance that is a convenient walk," Brown said after parking in the garage across from the airport's main terminal. "Whether you're parking to pick someone up or even dropping people off, sometimes it is just a nuisance."
Beginning Aug. 1, it could also cost a little more to park in the airport's garages, depending on the duration of your trip.
On Monday, airport commissioners voted to do away with the half-hour rate of $1. It will now cost a flat $2 for every hour, or fraction of an hour, to a daily maximum of $20.
Brown, a real estate agent who drives to Lambert two or three times a week, said the new hourly rates may be "horrible" for frequent visitors.
Daily parking rates for the airport's intermediate and three long-term lots also will climb by $1 a day, ranging from $6 to $12. People who park fewer than 12 hours at the Super Park lots also will pay more.
Brian Kinsey, the airport's business and marketing manager, said the parking rate increases were based on an analysis by consultant Walter P. Moore & Associates who compared parking rates in the central business district, per capita income and revenues at other airports. The current parking rates have been in place since November 2001.
"It's an adjustment that has been long-needed," Kinsey said.
Doing away with the half-hour parking rates in the terminal garages should alleviate confusion. It also will raise the revenue the garages generate.
"To me, it was always so confusing having these half-hour increments," Kinsey said.
Kinsey said the airport parking lots, which are managed by Central Parking, gross about $25 million a year. That amount should increase by $3.5 million a year under the new rates.
The airport competes with private garages for long-term parking business. But Kinsey said the new rates should not chase customers to the competitors.
Ron Jones of Fairview Heights said the daily rates for the conveniently located Express lot are already high enough at $8 a day and probably shouldn't be raised. But Jones doesn't think adding $1 to that daily tab would send him looking elsewhere.
"Would I get the same convenience for the price or cheaper? No, I don't think so," Jones said while riding a Super Park shuttle back to his car after visiting his daughter in Virginia.
Tom Paisley of Hazelwood said Lambert's Economy long-term parking rate of $5 a day compares favorably with airports in other cities.
"It's really not that bad," he said after returning from a weekend trip to Cleveland. "When they start hitting the $10 market, that's when I am going to start parking at home."
New Lambert parking rates
(Effective Aug. 1)
Garages: $2 an hour, up to $20 daily maximum.
Intermediate lot: $12*
Cypress (long term):
Surface: $8* Covered: $9* Valet: $12*
Economy (long term):
Express (long term):
* - Maximum for each 24 hours; additional days pro-rated
The airport stands to gain an estimated $200,000 revenue from the increases, according to Fred Piccolo, president and CEO of the airport.
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Meanwhile, parkers using long-term lots will gain free time, with the grace period ballooning from 30 minutes to two hours starting next month.