Parking help on the way at Fort Lauderdale’s airport
Getting a parking space – and finding it when you are ready to leave – will soon be a lot easier at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
On Oct. 1, the airport will begin rolling out $5 million in upgrades to make parking less stressful and lure back customers who use off-site options. The improvements were expected to begin this summer but the work has taken longer than expected.
“The last thing you want to do is waste your time circling around and trying to find a parking space,” said Doug Wolfe, the airport’s chief financial officer. “By being much more efficient we can save our customers a lot of time.”
The upgrades involve use of a camera-based guidance system, a first for U.S. airports, according to Broward officials, and a mobile app for parking. More improvements are on tap next year as the airport looks to relocate its cell phone lot to a location that is easier to find.
Here’s a summary of what you can expect:
- A parking guidance system, with LED lights and cameras in each aisle on every floor of the Palm and Hibiscus parking garages, which are closest to Terminals 2, 3 and 4. Green lights will indicate an available space. Cameras will record your license when you enter the garage and again when you park. The images will be matched up with the numbers on your parking ticket. To find your car, you’ll punch in either your license plate or your ticket into a kiosk in the terminals or the garages. This will start on Oct. 1.
- A mobile app will allow to you pay for parking on your smart phone starting October 1. Beginning in November, you’ll be able to use the app to reserve a space.
- Discount prices for frequent parkers via a “customer loyalty program.” Higher-priced premium parking will be available closest to the terminals. Specific costs must be approved by the county commission in September.
- Curbside valet will replace the existing valet in the garages on Nov. 1. Currently, drivers must enter the garages to valet their cars, then find their way to the terminals. In the new system, they’ll pull up to the curb between the terminals to drop off their cars. Prices haven’t been announced yet.
- In 2016, “bumper-to-bumper” service will be introduced at the economy lot off Ravenswood Road west of Interstate 95. Drivers will be directed to park in a specific space and a shuttle will be radioed to pick them up. Now, drivers park where they want, but shuttles circulate only every 15 minutes.
“Finally it seems that the management (has) found an executive who is thinking of the customer,” said Stephen Goss, formerly of Boca Raton and a frequent user of airport parking prior to moving out of Florida earlier this year.
Officials say they want to make sure the airport holds onto its old easy-in, easy-out reputation, a challenge in an era of explosive passenger growth. Last year, the airport handled a record 24.6 million passengers.
But parking revenue has steadily declined — from $47.7 million in 2008 to $41.8 million in 2014 — as off-site competitors increased their market share from 5 percent to 12 percent, airport officials say.
The airport has about 15,400 parking spaces, including 7,800 in the garages for the public and 3,750 spaces in the economy lot west of I-95. On average, customer service representatives field 4,000 calls a year (about 11 a day) from people who can’t find their cars.
Another problem: the difficult-to-find cell phone lot, which officials plan to move from its current location under the main terminal roadway. Construction of the airport’s new south runway prevented the lot being relocated sooner,
Also in the works: Studies are underway of the airport’s exit roadway, which has traffic from the various parking garages and the terminals merging together in virtually the same location, creating congestion.
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