Indy airport to explore parking changes as passenger traffic ascends

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The Indianapolis International Airport wants to explore whether it should adjust prices or make other changes to its parking offerings as passenger traffic at the airport steadily ascends.

On Friday, the Indianapolis Airport Authority awarded a three-year, $450,000 contract to engineering and parking consultant Carl Walker Inc., based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The company is tasked with analyzing the airport’s existing parking system to see what changes might be needed.

Current parking options offered by the airport are a five-level, 6,000-space covered garage; an economy lot with nearly 8,000 spaces; and valet parking. Hourly parking in the garage runs $2 per half-hour; daily parking is $18, or $25 if using the valet option. Economy parking is $9 per day.

The airport also has competition from a nearby park-and-ride operator. Cincinnati-based Fast Park announced this week that it planned to nearly double parking capacity at its 2,000-space facility in Ameriplex by November.

Marsha Stone, the airport’s senior director of commercial enterprise, said the airport typically analyzes its parking system every few years.

“We’ve got to look at what we do in the future,” Stone told IBJ.

That future appears to include even more passengers leaving the airport. For the first three months of this year, 983,619 passengers have boarded planes at the airport, an increase of 13.6 percent over the same period last year.

These boardings, which are also called enplanements, are a standard measure of airport passenger traffic. Enplanements in 2015 totaled 4.01 million, up 8.7 percent over the previous year.

Looking at the past decade, Indianapolis hit its high point with 4.14 million enplanements in 2007. Passenger traffic dipped as low as 3.60 million enplanements in 2013, but they have increased each year since then.

In a memo to the airport authority board, Stone said the recent growth in passenger traffic is causing increased demand for airport parking.

At times of peak leisure travel, Stone wrote, the airport’s economy parking lot fills up entirely. When this happens, the airport diverts passenger cars to an employee parking lot.

And throughout the year, Stone wrote, the airport garage can get so full that only roof-level parking is available.

According to a parking tool on the airport’s website,, on Friday morning the airport’s economy lot was 86 percent full. Garage parking was 71 percent full.

Stone said airports have a variety of ways to optimize their parking. They might adjust parking prices, add covered parking in the economy lot, add more spaces or try other things.

“There’s lots of different ways to address capacity issues,” Stone said. “We have no decisions yet.”

Stone said Carl Walker Inc. should have an initial analysis ready by the end of this year, with a longer-term analysis after that.

In a separate parking-related contract, the airport authority awarded a separate company, Walker Parking Consultants, a three-year $250,000 contract to study its revenue control system. This includes the parking ticket dispensers, payment stations and related technology.

Stone said this equipment is past the end of its lifespan, and Walker Parking Consultants will help the airport select new equipment.

Walker Parking Consultants is based in Elgin, Illinois, and has an office in Indianapolis.


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