BART airport parking takes off

Starting today, travelers flying out of San Francisco International Airport may park at four Peninsula BART stations for a mere $6 a day.

The cost is about half that of most off-airport lots, which could entice more travelers to take BART to catch their flights, but may also hurt business for shuttle services and private lots.

BART officials have set aside 200 parking spaces at the Millbrae station and 100 spaces each at Colma, South San Francisco and San Bruno stations. That number may fluctuate depending on the program’s impact on daily commuter parking.

“Our bread and butter is our daily commuter. We won’t stand to have them impacted,” BART board of directors President Lynette Sweet said.

To park at the airport, travelers mustvisit www.bart.gov/parking, pick one of the four stations and select their travel dates. After paying with a credit card, the traveler prints out a long-term parking permit to place on the dash. The permit guarantees a spot in long-term parking for anyone arriving before 10 a.m. Those with later flights can park in a regular spot.

While the new program is expected to be lauded by travelers, it provoked sharp outcry among local business owners. For Joe Galligan, a former Burlingame mayor and co-owner of the off-airport lot SkyPark in San Bruno, BART’s program wasn’t a welcome bargain.

“BART is using government money to undercut businesses that need to make a profit and need to pay salaries,” Galligan said.

Galligan said he hopes the services offered by some private lots — valet parking, bag checking and oil changes — will help keep them afloat.

Sammy Shiheiber, owner of Quake City Airport Shuttle Service, said he lost 25 to 40 percent of his business when BART opened its SFO extension in 2003. Now, with the launch of reduced-rate parking at BART stations, he’s bracing himself for another hit, he said.

“I’m sure it’ll hurt business,” he said.

The parking program is expected to earn BART $386,000 in net revenues annually, Sweet said. BART’s board of directors approved the long-term parking program July 12 but waited until they received go-ahead from the Federal Transit Administration to launch it.

BART has offered a similar long-term parking program for East Bay riders for years, which nets the transit agency about $300,000 per year, BART officials said.

For a step-by-step demonstration of downloading long-term parking permits, log on to www.BART.gov/BARTtv.

tbarak@examiner.com


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