Columbia councilman considers airport parking fees
Columbia city leaders Friday considered implementing a parking fee at Columbia Regional Airport.
Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas said airport parking fees were a fair to help pay for the operation of city buses.
Thomas’ plan to charge for airport parking did not get any support from the mayor and other council members.
Opponents of the idea said free parking was one of the biggest perks for travelers flying out of Columbia.
Thomas said airport parking fees would create about $1 million a year. Thomas said the extra money would help needy families and individuals on city buses.
“I don’t believe we should be leaving about $1 million a year on the table which is what we would generate if we would just charged $5 a night for parking at the airport which I don’t think would deter anybody from using it,” Thomas said.
Second Ward Councilman Mike Trapp said airport parking fees would have some travelers using other airports.
“Free parking at the airport is valuable thing that we want to protect as long as we can,” Trapp said.
City of Columbia Spokesman Steve Sapp said airport parking fees were a possibility when the new terminal was in operation.
“This doesn’t look like it has any traction until after the terminal is built. Certainly in the interim period there’s a lot of work and a lot of research that needs to be done,” Sapp said.
Trapp said a compromise was a parking fee for spots near the terminal while keeping free parking in satellite lots.
Thomas said he would attempt to find other sources of revenue for the operation of city buses.