The increased misuse of the Pitkin County Airport parking lots by people who have no business at the airport has made flying out of the airport a very difficult experience for bona fide plane passengers. Some of us have missed our planes and had to drive to Denver or other airports in the general vicinity. This is obviously a problem for the continued viability of the Pitkin County Airport.
The issue was recently brought to the Board of County Commissioners. While reacting with a sense of urgency, they’ve been thoughtful in rejecting higher parking fees as a solution. An increase in parking fees would penalize passengers and make using the Pitkin County Airport less attractive compared to alternatives such as Eagle County Airport. The innovative suggestion by Commissioner George Newman of using technology to screen parking lot users for boarding passes at the entrances to the lots will hopefully be considered and bear fruit. If the technology does not exist, he also suggested that passengers could leave a copy of their boarding pass on their dashboard, to be checked periodically during the day.
In addition, a useful first step might be to put up signs at the parking lots indicating that they are for use only by passengers and that other vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense. To my knowledge no such signs now exist. It is tempting to think that as major renovations to the airport are being considered, the number of parking spaces can be increased. However, if the airport is to become the preferred parking location for many people who have no business at the airport, an exponential number of additional parking spaces might be needed. The misuse problem needs to be solved now.