Our view: New airport parking system a plus | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: New airport parking system a plus

At issue:

A new paid parking system is being installed this week at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Our view:

The system will pay for itself and improve the travel experience for those flying in and out of Hayden.

Yampa Valley Regional Airport Director Kevin Booth reported last week that a new paid parking system is currently being installed at the airport. With the new system, which should be operational by Sept. 26, the arrival and departure experience for travelers who drive to and from the airport in Hayden should be vastly improved.

This is welcome news because the existing automated parking system at YVRA has never really worked reliably since its installation in 2006. Historically, the system has been a source of frustration for travelers when the credit card reader intermittently failed to raise the exit gate and people were left to figure out how to exit the parking lot — not the best way to make an impression on visitors to Steamboat Springs.

Booth inherited the problem when he took the position as YVRA manager in 2015, and shortly after accepting the post, he learned 3M, the company that acquired ownership of the automated system from Federal APD in 2012, was dumping it, so there would be no source for replacement parts.

This prompted Booth to tell the Routt Board of County Commissioners back in February 2015 that a new parking system was in the airport’s future, and now that promise is coming true.

It’s anticipated the new $240,000 system will pay for itself. No longer will the airport need to employ parking booth attendants at a cost of $12.50 an hour to ensure people don’t get stuck in the parking lot when the exit gate decides not to work, and maintenance costs to try to fix the old system will disappear from the airport budget.

Parking fees represent the third biggest revenue generator for the airport. According to Booth, income from parking will more than cover the cost of new equipment and installation of the new system. No parking fee increases are expected.

Like most parking lots at airports across the country, drivers will take a ticket when they enter the YVRA parking lot, and then upon their exit from the lot, they’ll put their ticket under a bar code reader, pay the fee with a credit car and the exit gate will raise automatically. It’s a simple system but one travelers are familiar with.

In addition to a new automated ticket system, the parking lot was reconfigured to add more parking spaces, and the entrance and exit to the lot are now served by two lanes, which will be improve traffic flow, especially during the busier winter travel months.

One last perk of the new system is a license plate reader that automatically raises the gate for the convenience of frequent travelers who purchase season parking passes from the airport and airport employees. It’s just one more improvement that makes flying out of Hayden a much more pleasurable experience.

We think the money the county spent on the new parking system is a wise investment, and it brings a key revenue driver for the airport into the 21st century.

It will also enhance the arrival and departure experience for destination visitors who fly from across the country to spend their vacation time in Steamboat Springs as well as location-neutral business people who depend on the regional airport for their travel needs.

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