CONVERSATIONS: Readers critical of councilman's idea for an airport parking fee

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Fourth Ward City Councilman Ian Thomas recently proposed a parking fee for Columbia Regional Airport that would allow the airport to operate with less reliance on the transportation sales tax.

Money from the tax could then support the city’s public transit system, which is facing impending budget cuts.

Many of our readers are not optimistic about this proposed fee, which the City Council did not approve. Readers shared their thoughts through Facebook and on our website.

Here are some of their comments:

Fee discourages travel

Many believe implementing a parking fee will only cause travelers to look elsewhere for their transportation, such as St. Louis or Kansas City.

“Given the price of airfare from COU to anywhere, the Columbia airport rarely gets my patronage, you can be assured if I must also pay to park my car in a used to be cow pasture I will simply go to STL or Kansas City. Ergo, if you want to kill the growth in airport patronage, go for it.” — Mary Ratchford Douglass

“I would’ve just driven to St Louis and used a proper airport if I had to pay for parking.” — Eric Simpson

“Part of the selling feature of flying from como is the fact you do not have to pay for parking. This feature often helps offset the fact that airfare is much higher than Kansas City or St. Louis. Now if parking starts to cost the same, sadly the number of patrons may decrease.” – {a href=”https://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaMissourian/posts/10157498229054625?__xts__[0]=68.ARAELxL_HZWrc8e_WsTXozauoOMQV28_iPTKoaYV7AUIfSq7BZHbgTBusbcRk7Hmc7NNcFg_u5xXN4R7a6tfGkz3VeA8FcZXE4a50i7fVe5OX9mZNmvlDivDh9N4sPvvSAbjq3I-BEDToHNgM7dXA3CboNW4z6yG6AukgXrf7fUj2Vivl9j2n78&__tn__=-R” target=”_blank”}Evelyne Diedre Gilbert{/a}

“Pay to very literally park in a cow pasture? LOL!!” – {a href=”https://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaMissourian/posts/10157498229054625?__xts__[0]=68.ARAELxL_HZWrc8e_WsTXozauoOMQV28_iPTKoaYV7AUIfSq7BZHbgTBusbcRk7Hmc7NNcFg_u5xXN4R7a6tfGkz3VeA8FcZXE4a50i7fVe5OX9mZNmvlDivDh9N4sPvvSAbjq3I-BEDToHNgM7dXA3CboNW4z6yG6AukgXrf7fUj2Vivl9j2n78&__tn__=-R” target=”_blank”}Tim Ross{/a}

Business travelers

In his proposal, Thomas argued that business travelers could easily afford paying the daily parking fee. However, business passengers say otherwise.

“Business travelers CAN easily afford to pay a parking fee. That is correct. But, this business traveler flies out of STL or KC because 1) the rates to fly out of COU are out of compliance with the rate structure used by my company and 2) I can fly into STL or KC and drive back and still be home before the return flight into COU lands. The airport is between a rock and a hard place. There isn’t enough air traffic here to support multiple carriers and destinations. Because of that, STL and KC will be better options most of the time.” – {a href=”https://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaMissourian/posts/10157498229054625?__xts__[0]=68.ARAELxL_HZWrc8e_WsTXozauoOMQV28_iPTKoaYV7AUIfSq7BZHbgTBusbcRk7Hmc7NNcFg_u5xXN4R7a6tfGkz3VeA8FcZXE4a50i7fVe5OX9mZNmvlDivDh9N4sPvvSAbjq3I-BEDToHNgM7dXA3CboNW4z6yG6AukgXrf7fUj2Vivl9j2n78&__tn__=-R” target=”_blank”}Bryan Bauermeister{/a}

“When I traveled, I had to show that a flight out of Columbia saved both in mileage and parking. They’re going to have to attract more than three destinations to act like a big boy airport.”

Use of funds

Our readers shared their opinions on where the revenue from parking fees should go and how to fund the public transit system.

“I fly out of COU once or twice a month. I would not mind paying a small fee to park if the money was put to good use at the airport (new terminal, paved parking lots). But I strongly disagree with airport revenue being used for other city services like the bus system.” – {a href=”https://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaMissourian/posts/10157498229054625?__xts__[0]=68.ARAELxL_HZWrc8e_WsTXozauoOMQV28_iPTKoaYV7AUIfSq7BZHbgTBusbcRk7Hmc7NNcFg_u5xXN4R7a6tfGkz3VeA8FcZXE4a50i7fVe5OX9mZNmvlDivDh9N4sPvvSAbjq3I-BEDToHNgM7dXA3CboNW4z6yG6AukgXrf7fUj2Vivl9j2n78&__tn__=-R” target=”_blank”}John Sullins{/a}

“I think increasing public transit is great but there needs to be a way to do it without involving parking fees at the airport.” – {a href=”https://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaMissourian/posts/10157498229054625?__xts__[0]=68.ARAELxL_HZWrc8e_WsTXozauoOMQV28_iPTKoaYV7AUIfSq7BZHbgTBusbcRk7Hmc7NNcFg_u5xXN4R7a6tfGkz3VeA8FcZXE4a50i7fVe5OX9mZNmvlDivDh9N4sPvvSAbjq3I-BEDToHNgM7dXA3CboNW4z6yG6AukgXrf7fUj2Vivl9j2n78&__tn__=-R” target=”_blank”}Toni Keel{/a}

“I would support a fee only if it would go to improving/expanding/maintaining the airport parking service. Charging these folks for the buses, which I don’t think even run to the airport, is a poor idea. Maybe raising the bus fare......? Just saying.

“Anyone who watched the council meeting tonight knows that the plan to cut funding to public transit is morally horrific. The question is not whether we need to plug the budget gap here, it’s how are we going to: Parking fees at the airport are possible, and if kept low they won’t have that much impact on travel out of Columbia Airport. People are not going to choose to drive to STL or MCI, then pay exorbitant parking fees there rather than accepting a small fee here.”

What do you think?

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