Austin City Council voted unanimously to postpone a decision on a proposed employee parking lot at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport at the Sept. 27 meeting. The additional parking would create 1,750 new spaces for employees and business partners of ABIA, with an estimated price tag of no more than $7,683,470.95. The plan would also expand an existing parking lot by 250 spaces.
Council members Chris Riley, Bill Spelman and Laura Morrison opposed the plan. Riley proposed an incentives program which would reward employees who gave up their parking spot for the general public. It would be a way to save costs and encourage alternate travel to the airport, said Riley.
“We don’t have control over 90 percent of the employees that work at the airport. Those individuals work for TSA, Customs and Border Protection, airlines, the concessionaires, support companies that help on the field and others,” ABIA Executive Director Jim Smith said. “There’s over 100 companies who do business at the airport.”
The new employee parking lot would be located immediately adjacent to the terminal, with a walkway to cut down the costs of bus transportation, Smith said. Some employees and flight crews currently park in the same locations as customers at reduced rates.
“The employees we’re talking about are service industry employees,” Councilman Mike Martinez said, “They don’t make a lot of money to begin with, and they need the ability to access work.”
Mayor Lee Leffingwell supported the plan.
“Having been a commuter in Austin for a long time, I can tell you employees have been at the bottom of the barrel as far as parking spaces go. These are crews that commute from Austin over the entire country. They choose to live in Austin. That’s a choice, and we’re glad they made it as far as I’m concerned,” Leffingwell said.
The council will take another look at the issue at the Oct. 18 meeting.