Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
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.
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."