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Tampa International Airport’s parking garage rates to rise

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

If you leave your car at Tampa International Airport overnight in the future, it’s going to cost you a little bit more starting this fall.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority is scheduled on Thursday to vote on raising the fees on all three parking garages at the airport.

The short-term garage will raise its rates per 24 hours from $20 to $22; the long-term garage’s rates will go from $16 to $18; and the economy garage will go up a buck — from $9 to $10 after 24 hours. The parking garage rates will remain the same as is currently the case when your car is parked for less than 24 hours.

“We’re adjusting our parking rates to help offset the cost of  parking garage improvements,” says Janet Zink, assistant vice president of media and government relations. “Over the past years, we’ve spent $48 million to maintain the parking garages and we expect to spend $30 million over the next five years to maintain them. We are also spending $20 million to upgrade our 20-year-old parking and revenue control system.”

Zink says those upgrades include new “ticket spitters” at the parking garage entrances and booths at the garage exits, which allow for the first time credit card entry and exit, loyalty and frequent parker programs, web-based parking reservations, corporate and business parking and other programs.

The airport maxed out of parking spaces 22 times last year, and 17 times already this year because of full capacity.

A quick comparison with other airports shows that Tampa does still fare well compared to its brethren nationally.  At Los Angeles International Airport, long-term rates are $30 after 24 hours and $12 for the economy garage. In Atlanta, Hartsfield-Jackson International airport charges $36 in its short-term garage; $16 per day in its “covered deck” parking area, and $12 in its economy lot.

However, TIA does charge more after 24 hours than in Houston or Miami. In H-town, it’s a flat $19 a day at George H.W. Bush International. In Miami a flat $17. However, as Zink notes, Tampa is unique in that it’s the only airport in the nation with a parking garage on top of its terminal. Meaning that most airports’ “short-term” parking is the equivalent of TIA’s long-term garage.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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