Airport Opens Short-Term Parking Garage in Time for Holidays

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Passengers walk along the walkway from the long-term parking garage through the short-term parking garage at the San Antonio International Airport.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Passengers walk along the walkway through the short-term parking garage at the San Antonio International Airport.

The San Antonio International Airport opened its new $43 million short-term parking garage last weekend. Travelers parking in either the short- or long-term garage can now access terminals through a pedestrian tunnel without having to cross the busy access road for arrivals.

The two-story lot adds nearly 1,200 spaces inside the Terminal Drive loop and it's the first functioning section of the $178 million Consolidated Rental Car Facility project.

Russ Handy, director of the aviation department, said that the rest of the rental car facility will have a grand opening sometime in January. A total of 14 rental car companies will operate in the seven-level facility.

Thanksgiving travelers were some of the first to use the new garage. Handy predicted that San Antonio would likely break holiday travel records for the week. About 11,000 travelers arrive and depart on a normal day, but this week the airport expects about 15,500.

He said the busiest travel day at the San Antonio airport last year was the Sunday following the Thanksgiving. The Friday before the Thanksgiving week was the second busiest, with the Monday after the holiday coming in close third.

A Southwest airplane is viewed through the window of Terminal A at the San Antonio International Airport on the day before Thanksgiving.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

A Southwest airplane is viewed through the window of Terminal A at the San Antonio International Airport on the day before Thanksgiving.

Tamera Marberry, the airport's parking and ground transportation manager, said the new garage also gives people a place to idle while waiting for arrivals.

"It's the convenience of picking someone up right next to the terminal," Marberry said. "It's hard to pick [people] up on the curb."

Short-term garage users typically leave their cars for 2.6 days, Marberry said, paying $25 per day. Long-term parking, a short walk away, is $12 per day. There are 5,300 parking spots in the long term garage. There is no time minimum for short- or long-term lots. Additional pricing information can be found on the airport's rates & fees page.

Other amenities inside the short-term lot include eight electric vehicle charging stations, with room to add more in the future, Marberry said. A cluster of multicolor sensory lights above every four parking spaces will let drivers know where there is an available spot: a light will turn from green to red once full. Blue lights mark available wheelchair-accessible parking spaces. Drivers can also swipe in and out of garages with credit and debit cards.

The airport deployed additional employees to help travelers navigate the new infrastructure and hear what comments they had on its newest addition, Handy said. "We're really happy with the feedback."

4 thoughts on “Airport Opens Short-Term Parking Garage in Time for Holidays

  1. I think we need to let it sink in exactly how much additional car traffic this $178m project will add to the Airport’s Terminal Drive area (1,200 more parking spaces, 14 rental car agencies)– with none of the public funds helping San Antonio move out of nearly last place nationally (41 out of 50 major airports), in regards to airport public transit.

    SAT this week is suggesting through social media that travelers start picking up arriving guests from the upper departure level to help mitigate noticeable congestion on the arrival level, and prior to new garages and rental car facilities even opening. This is what happens when you don’t have viable public transit services at the airport.

    Our current VIA 5 bus service is not frequent enough (or an option at all many hours) and creates an airport reputation problem that this $178m project won’t address. And as the latest ranking shows, airport rental car consolidation only works where mass transit moves car renting away from the terminals to help address airport car congestion.

    Cites with stronger airport transit are contenders for the next Amazon HQ. By not working to improve public transit options at SAT with this high dollar public project, this work will likely increase car congestion at the airport and not help improve the positioning of our airport or the city.

    http://milecards.com/best-airports-for-transit-global-and-u-s-2017-rankings/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consolidated_rental_car_facility

  2. The new rate system is going to push many people to continue to use the curbs to pick up passengers. With the old garage, one could park for 30 minutes for free. When they cut it back to 15 minutes, you could still get out for $1-2. Now, it is a minimum of $3 to pick up a passenger if it takes more than that 15 minutes of free parking. The good news, is that taxis, shuttles, and rideshare (Uber, Lyft, Get Me, etc.) will all be moved to the outer curb so that only personal car pickup will be at the inside curbs. But my guess is that personal car pickup at the curbs will be very congested. It’s too bad the rates for the short-term garage are not a bit lower for the 3/4 of an hour (since it usually takes 16-45 minutes to pull in, get passengers, and leave even when pulling in at the last moment after having waited in the free cell phone lot for a call)–say free for first 15 minutes. $1 for 16-30 minutes, $2.50 for 31-45 minutes, $5 for 46 min. to 1 hour, and then continue with their present structure. The new computer system that takes credit and debit cards as a person enters the garage could easily be changed to handle such a pricing system and many people would gladly use the short-term garage when picking up passengers. But that minimum of $3 for 16-30 min. and $5 for 31 min.-1 hour seems to be steep and discouraging.

  3. While not as useful for locals, having a consolidated rental car facility colocated with the airport is a great convienence for travelers.

    The rag-tag spread out nature of the current facilities is confusing and bound to leave a poor impression. Hopefully these sites can be converted to more productive uses as well.

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