MEDIA CONTACT: John Kinney - Airport Director - 970-429-2851
Airport officials are reviewing short and long-term solutions to the parking shortage at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. Summer flight volume and the non-travelling public using the airport’s long-term parking lot have consistently filled the lots to capacity for much of the summer season. The Airport’s Twitter account and Pitkin Alert are being used to communicate real-time parking information to the travelling public.
“The last thing we want to have happen is for someone catching a flight to be unaware that they can’t find long-term parking at the airport and miss their flight,” said Aspen/Pitkin County Airport Director, John Kinney. “We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to find alternative transportation to and from the airport during busy travel days and weekends,” Kinney said.
All available unused space on airport property is being reviewed for solutions. Most recently, a rental car company that had been using prime parking space for rental cars in front of the airport terminal was relocated to a lot further to the west of the terminal near the general aviation facility.
“Paving a previously dirt lot and moving the rental cars a little further away from the commercial terminal instantly opened up 50 parking spaces for us. But for today’s traffic volumes we are still short by 120 spaces which is why we continue to encourage travellers to rideshare and use public transportation when possible,” Kinney said.
Lot A - Short Term Parking at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport
Complicating the parking crunch at the airport is the mandatory curbside parking restriction in front of the terminal. The Transportation Security Administration has mandated that all airports, including Aspen’s, eliminate all parking except for quick drop-offs and pickups. People picking up travellers are encouraged to wait off-airport property when possible for flights to arrive and communicate with travellers when they have collected their baggage and are ready for curbside pickup.
"Enforcing the TSA curbside mandate has been difficult for us and for the community," Kinney said. "It's a big change for locals and our parking control and security officers have had to deal with some fairly angry customers when they're asked to move on from the curbside in front of the terminal. We've instituted an educational campaign in the local media to try to soften local attitudes about the curbside security mandate," Kinney said.
In the coming months, the airport will create close-in passenger pick up parking area, referred to as the “cell phone lot,” along the so-called “slip lane” that parallels the parking permit kiosk leading back onto Highway 82. Cars will be able to park parallel briefly and must be attended at all times, along the slip lane while waiting for travellers to call them for pick up when they arrive. The parking spaces that will be constructed on both sides of the kiosk are expected to create approximately 50 more very short term spaces for waiting vehicles. In addition, the Brush Creek Park and Ride and Buttermilk parking lots may be used for free short term or all-day parking. Vehicles may not be left at either of these parking lots overnight.
Airport officials believe that long-term parking rates may be too low and that non-travellers are taking up long-term parking spaces when they need a place to park for a few days for a backpacking trip or some other recreational activity. It is believed that some of the time non-travellers are using the spaces for trips back and forth to Aspen.
Longer-term solutions are being strategized with Pitkin County Commissioners.
“The BOCC has asked us to consider all other options before we institute parking rate increases at the airport,” Kinney said.
The BOCC will receive an update on airport parking at their next regular meeting on August 6th.