Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport Parking Gets Mechanized

Oct. 26, 2022

Oct. 26—Mechanical arms will be controlling access to paid parking at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport, possibly as early as next month before the busy Thanksgiving travel season.

The change is part of an overhaul approved Tuesday at a meeting of the authority board that oversees the transportation hub.

It's anticipated to make parking, which will generate about $210,000 this year, an even more lucrative source of revenue for the airport, said Airport Director Michael Isaacs.

As part of the new system, passengers will call a number posted at the entrances and exits of the lot to raise and lower the arms, he said.

The number will provide information about how to pay by text or email with forms of payment like credit cards.

Buttons will be located by the arms, where passengers can make arrangements to pay by talking with an employee who also is available to answer questions anyone has about the process, Isaacs said.

Passengers will call the same number when they leave and be charged for the time they were in the lot, minus the first two or three hours that will be free.

Parking will cost $5 per day as it does now, with discounts for extended stays, Isaacs said.

Customers will also be asked to pay a $1 fee each time they park. The $1 fee will go to Spaces USA, the company that is providing the new system, he said.

The new approach has a number of advantages, Isaacs said. It will eliminate the 15 to 40 passengers per day who get away with not paying for parking because the airport uses the honor system, he said.

Airport employees alert passengers who haven't paid, but they don't issue tickets, Isaacs said.

It will also help alleviate headaches for customers, who presently can't add days to the time they are in the lot if their travel plans change, Isaacs said.

One quirk in the system is there's occasionally a lag time in processing payments and some people pay twice. The airport makes refunds, but it's a hassle, he said.

Before the board approved the parking changes, Joe Gish, a board member, wondered what boundaries the contract put on Spaces USA about sharing data.

Spaces USA will have access to thousands of telephone numbers of people and know when they travel, he said.

"Is there some kind of assurance that those numbers aren't sold to third parties in the contract?" he said. "I (would) hate for our customers to get bad calls. ... That's a worry for me, but I like the system."

Airport staff said they plan to have an answer for Gish in the coming weeks.


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