Proposal Would Alter Airport Parking Rates

by Jeff Fleischer

(Medill News Service, November 13, 2002)

(By Jeff Fleischer and David Bernstein)

A Chicago alderman introduced a proposal Wednesday that would lower short-term parking rates at O’Hare Airport as a way to lure motorists away from the congested driveways in front of the terminals.

The ordinance, introduced by Ald. Patrick J. Levar (45th), would decrease short-term parking rates at O’Hare from $8 to $3 for the first three hours. However, Levar’s proposal calls for slightly increased rates for long-term parking at both O’Hare and Midway airports.

“We’re doing this to encourage motorists to use the parking garages when dropping off or picking up passengers,” Mayor Richard M. Daley said following Wednesday’s council meeting.

Daley said the price drop would keep motorists from circling around the airport or parking illegally and risking a ticket.

“They’ve found out that a person only parks there for 25 minutes, or a half hour, not even that,” Daley said. “They park, get the person, bring them over, get in the car and go.”

At O’Hare, the long-term parking rate for 10-24 hours will go up by $2. At Midway, the long-term terminal lot rate goes up $1 per day, from $22 to $23.

Economy parking at Midway will go up from $9 to $10 per day. This rate change will affect the lot at 71st and Cicero, and the new Economy Garage, which is scheduled to open next spring.

The lots are owned by the city, but operated by independent companies with city contracts, said Annette Arredondo, public relations coordinator for the Chicago Department of Revenue.

Daley said the proposed rates are similar to those put in effect during the holiday season.

“We have found that traffic moves much better, everything moves [during the holidays],” he said. “Otherwise, it all clogs up.”

When asked if these fee changes would increase the city’s net revenue, Daley agreed. He said the reduction in short-term fees would be made up by an increase in customer use.

The mayor and council have been searching for new revenue sources to help eliminate the city’s $116 million shortfall and balance next year’s budget.

Aldermen are expected to vote on the mayor’s budget at the next council meeting on Dec. 4. It includes a proposed $10 million in fee hikes, some job layoffs and spending cuts, but no new or increased taxes.

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