McCarran unveils automated parking payment system

McCarran International Airport officially unveiled a new parking payment system Tuesday, which has already gotten some minor changes since its soft launch earlier this month.
The airport gradually has been replacing the old way of paying for parking which involved toll booths for short- and long-term parking, and parking meters in the passenger pickup area with an automated system.

County Director of Aviation Randall Walker said the old system was a hassle for many customers, who often had to wait in long lines to exit parking areas because of the time it took to pay at toll booths.

With Express Exit, we feel these frustrations will be a thing of the past, Walker said.

The $13 million system replaces technology that Walker said had to be replaced anyway because the company that provided it was no longer maintaining it.

Walker said he doesnt know if or how much additional revenue the new system might generate, because the only potential for increase would be from the people who skipped paying before.

The system will save the airport money since it will need fewer people to staff toll booths, collect money from meters and write tickets. The airport said no layoffs will occur because officials planned for the change and havent filled vacant positions.

For the next few months the airport will have parking staff stationed at vending machines to explain the new automated system, Walker said.

The new system eventually will take photographs of each car entering a parking lot for an inventory of how long cars stay.

The biggest adjustments for motorists will be in the passenger pickup area, where every driver must now stop and take a ticket to park instead of feeding meters.

Gone are the days of finding an unexpired meter or waiting in the car and feeding the meter only when a parking staff member was approaching.

Airport officials encourage people to take their tickets and pay at a machine near the walkways to and from the lot, rather than at the machine as they exit in their car, which only takes credit cards.

Once drivers do pay for parking at a walk-up machine, they have a grace period to leave the lot, usually 45 minutes, airport officials said.

That time was bumped up after customers complained that they were double paying if for some reason they paid but didnt leave right away.

Drivers also will have 15 minutes of free time, meaning they wont have to pay if they only briefly use the passenger pickup area, Walker said.

The key to getting out free is to drive to the exit gates within 15 minutes, as opposed to paying at a walk-up machine. Despite the sign that says a stay of zero to 60 minutes costs $2, drivers who put their ticket in the drive-through machine within 15 minutes wont be charged.

Summerlin resident Cindy Davis said she likes the new system better. Before, each time she went to the airport to pick someone up she would have to find a few quarters to take with her.

This really is better, she said after picking up three out-of-town friends. I think its a good idea.

Walker said the airport has discussed building a cell phone waiting lot for people waiting to pick up passengers, but decided it was unneeded because there is plenty of parking already available near the pick-up area.

Building a new lot would also cost the airport money and provide no revenue, so unless a cell phone lot is needed to relieve parking in other places, the airport probably wont build one, Walker said.
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McCarran International Airport
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