As of June 1, free parking will be a thing of the past in the Buffalo Niagara International Airport's short-term parking garage.
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's Aviation Committee voted Thursday to phase out the long-standing "first 30 minutes free" policy as of June 1 and to boost maximum daily rates in the short-term ramp from $18 to $20, effective April 1.
Meanwhile, parkers using long-term lots will gain free time, with the grace period ballooning from 30 minutes to two hours starting next month. The full board is expected to formally adopt the parking change when it meets Monday.
NFTA Executive Director Lawrence Meckler said the decision to delay the elimination of the short-term lot grace period until June will give airport parkers a chance to adjust their habits.
"We wanted to lessen the impact on those who regularly use the short-term garage for quick trips to drop off or pick up passengers and rely on the 30-minute free period," Meckler said. "We're hoping they'll convert to using the long-term lots, where they'll get two hours free, and it will be a smooth transition."
Also, an April 1 changeover would have come during the peak of spring break travel, causing added disruption during the prime flying week. The NFTA is planning a campaign of informational signs and pamphlets to let travelers know about the upcoming changes.
The end of free time in the 844-space ramp, located directly in front of the airport terminal, is aimed at maximizing income from those who want the convenience of parking within yards of the terminal. It is estimated the NFTA will see a $500,000 jump in parking revenue by eliminating the grace period and increasing the maximum daily fee.
The hourly rate for the short-term garage will remain at $3.
There will be no change in rates for the airport's long-term and preferred lots, which are $2 for the first hour and $1 for each additional hour, after the grace period expires. The daily maximum rates are $8.75 and $10, respectively.
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