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Airport gears up for parking crunch

With four of five lots full last weekend, officials are working on strategies to ease the pain during summer travel season.

May 30, 2007|By Chris Wiebe

BURBANK — Bob Hope Airport officials are gearing up for the summer travel season, just one year after an anticipated parking crunch was largely fended off in summer 2006.

"Even though we avoided the ultimate calamity of running out of parking spaces per se, there still is a very predictable and reliably heavy pressure on the parking lots at the airport," airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, airport officials had to close four out of five parking lots Friday afternoon because of heavy parking demand, he said. Within that context, previous campaigns urging travelers to seek out methods beyond their own cars to get to the airport are still relevant this year, he said.

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"A lot of the same warnings of trying to use alternate transportation … getting picked up or dropped off and arriving appropriately early for your trip still stand," he said.

Along with crowded parking comes slowed circulation on roads inside the airport, he said.

"The traveling public still has to expect that parking has its issues at the airport and … during peak hours it is unquestionably the case that the lanes in front of the terminal and leading into the terminal from Hollywood Way are very, very crowded," he said.

On Friday, traffic officials employed a new strategy for facilitating traffic flow, opening up some valet parking lanes as an additional option for picking-up and dropping-off passengers, he said.

"I think it worked well, but people are still creatures of habit," he said.

Traffic officers posted in passenger loading and unloading zones have become a fixed presence at the airport and will continue to direct traffic in front of the terminal, he said.

Of course, the impact of the summer traveling season on airport infrastructure is contingent upon the number of people flying this summer. Last year, airlines increased their seating capacity by about 10%, but saw a passenger increase of only 1% to 2%, which largely staved off a parking crisis at Bob Hope Airport.

Rising fuel costs and air fares will likely be significant variables that determine summer traveler figures, Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport Authority Commissioner Charlie Lombardo said.

But regardless of the activity level, officials are working to provide the level of service that passengers expect, he added.

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