GFIA Adds New Fees

September 2, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Kent County Aeronautics Board has approved new policies and procedures for commercial vehicle use of GeraldR.FordInternationalAirport's terminal curb front.

Commercial transporters such as hotel/motel passenger shuttles, taxicabs and limousines will now be charged a $200 initial application fee, a $150 yearly renewal application fee, as well as a $25 vehicle registration fee for the right to deposit passengers and baggage curb side.

The only exception will be Calder City Cab, which is currently under contract with the airport. CalderCity pays the airport for the privilege of full curb front access to the terminal, said Bruce Schedlbauer, GFIA's manager of marketing and communications. When the contract expires, other cab companies will have the opportunity to bid on it.

Curb front terminal access at the airport continues to be limited to quick pick-ups and drop-offs only, but this is the first time the airport has charged commercial vehicles for curbside access.

Schedlbauer said GFIA sent out letters Friday inviting eligible commercial operators to apply for the right to use the front curb.

"We anticipate that the first vehicles will have a permit in place and will be utilizing the front curb by Sept. 19, based on our timeline for sending out the letter of application, receiving the applications back, and getting the permit process taken care of." But he stressed that the Sept. 19 date is only an estimated date.

He said access fees were based on fee schedules similar-sized airports charge commercial vehicles for terminal curbside use.

On top of those fees, the board had considered a $10 activity fee per access for commercial vehicles, as well. At the urging of board member Dean Agee, the board nixed the additional $10 fee.

The board also instructed staff to monitor the curb front situation for at least six months to assure the general public is not inconvenienced by the change and isn't squeezed out of spaces for curbside pick-up and drop-off.

Commercial vehicles can continue to use the commercial vehicle lane — the lane in front of the terminal on the surface parking lot side of the street — at no charge, but the lane does not have designated spaces for vehicles to stop for drop-offs or picks-ups.

"The intent is to enhance customer service for users of the airport without taking away from any other users of the airport," Schedlbauer said.

He recalled that before the commercial lane was constructed, everybody used the terminal curb front, and at certain times of the day and certain days of the year it would get so congested that people were double and triple parked, which made it difficult to find a spot to stop and drop off or pick up someone.

When the airport put in the commercial lane, he said, much of the traffic was moved off of the terminal curb front.

"That's what the board wants us to watch for, so we don't go back to a situation like we had prior to the commercial lane being available," Schedlbauer said. "The pricing to be put in place for use of the terminal curb front by commercial vehicles is something of a demand management tool."

He said the revenue generated from commercial transportation fees for curb front access will go into the general fund portion of the airport's operating budget.

Aeronautics Director James Koslosky said the commercial lane has functioned well for the airport, and noted that the lanes in front of the terminal accommodate some 5,400 passengers and 4,000 vehicles daily.

Also on Wednesday, the board agreed to impose a facility charge on airport rental car customers as a means of paying for rental car facility improvements that will be part of a new 4,800-space parking ramp at Ford International.

Plans call for the rental car companies to collect a fee of $3 per rental car transaction per day and to turn the fees over to the aeronautics board for payment of facility improvements. The fee becomes effective Oct. 1.

Rental car service counters and ready-return spaces will be relocated to the first level of the new ramp that's to be built in front of the airport's terminal building. The cost of building new rental car service facilities is estimated at $5.5 million, Schedlbauer said. He said that amount does not include the cost of restoring the existing site.

"We anticipate the customer facility charge will be collected until Dec. 31 of 2015, which based on our projections would generate $15.5 million — $10 million of it for the rental car portion of the parking garage."

Construction of the parking structure is expected to begin in 2007 and take about two years to complete.

The ramp will cost in the neighborhood of $120 million to construct. Its financing package includes Airport Improvement Plan funds, Transportation Security Administration funds, the rental car Customer Facility Charge and Passenger Facility Charge funds, Aeronautics' Department funds and revenue bond proceeds of approximately $100 million.     

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