Sarasota-Bradenton Airport Parking May Get Costlier

Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport proposes to increase airport parking rates in most categories during the next fiscal year as part of its new budget.

The airport stands to gain an estimated $200,000 revenue from the increases, according to Fred Piccolo, president and CEO of the airport.

In one area, however, parking could actually go down.

The restructured plan calls for 30 minutes of free parking in the short-term lot.

Increased curbside congestion at the airport has led to heavier workload for traffic personnel, as well as some frustration among meeters and greeters, Piccolo said.

"Some people keep circling and circling and we're trying to make it convenient," Piccolo said. "At the same time, we have to pay for all the amenities at the airport. We're trying to balance the two."

The reality is that in a post-9/11 world, vehicles cannot be left unattended at curbside.

By providing 30 minutes of free parking in the short-term area adjacent to the terminal, the airport hopes to help relieve congestion and increase satisfaction.

After 30 minutes of free parking, 31 to 60 minutes will remain unchanged at $2, according to the proposal.

Where it'll start to hurt is after 60 minutes, when each additional half-hour will increase from 50 cents to $1.

The 24-hour maximum in short-term parking will increase from $11 to $12.

Long-term parking is going up, too, from $9 to $10 for 24 hours, and from $59 to $65 per week.

This weekly rate is more expensive than the uncovered economy parking lot at Tampa International Airport, which costs $7 a day or $42 a week, according to spokesperson Brenda Geoghagen.

The proposed changes at Sarasota-Bradenton are expected to decrease annual short-term revenue by about $10,000. Long-term revenue stands to gain about $200,000.

Piccolo defended the increases by comparing the airport's short-termparking rates to those of Tampa International Airport and Regional Southwest International Airport in Ft. Myers.

Both have maximum daily rates of $18 in short-term parking compared to Sarasota-Bradenton's proposed $12, Piccolo said.

Tampa International recently increased short-term parking and valet parking by $4 a day in the short-term parking lot. Those were the only areas of increase, Geoghagen said.

Phase one of a new economy parking garage is scheduled to open in November at Tampa airport, providing covered parking.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press