No More KCI Parking Discount for the Disabled

At Kansas City International Airport, people with disabilities have been able to park in the terminal garages for a discounted rate of $5 a day.

But beginning Saturday, they will pay the regular posted rate - the maximum of which is $18 a day - if they choose to park in any of the three garages across from the airport terminals.

KCI spokesman Joe McBride said the airport is changing policy because shuttle buses that serve the airport's economy lot now all have wheelchair lifts and kneeling capabilities, allowing the vehicle to lower itself closer to the ground.

The economy lot charges all customers $5 a day, but is farther from the terminal doors than the three garages.

When the economy lot opened in January 2004, McBride said only a handful of the shuttle buses had handicap-accessible capabilities. So the airport offered the $5-a-day discount at the terminal parking lots for travelers with disability placards in their vehicles.

But after the entire shuttle bus fleet was upgraded, McBride said, the discount was no longer necessary.

"We know this might be a burden to some," he said. "But we are offering reasonable accommodations that we didn't before."

Park Lightfoot, a former member of the Kansas City Silver Haired City Council, an advisory board on aging issues, said he did not consider the policy change to be a pressing issue.

In the past, Lightfoot has criticized KCI?s practice of ticketing drivers for parking curbside while escorting a disabled or elderly passenger into the terminal.

But Lightfoot, who recently had his right leg amputated, said some improvements have been made, such as wheelchairs being available near the terminal entrances.

McBride said people using the economy lot spaces designated for customers with disabilities - the spaces adjacent to the bus shelters - will travel a shorter distance than they would if they were to park in similar spaces in the terminal garage.

The shelters are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and other motorized devices, McBride said, and the shelter phones - used to summon buses - are at an accessible height.

Kansas City Star

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