Yampa Valley Regional Airport needs new automated parking system to replace ‘old unreliable’ | CraigDailyPress.com

Yampa Valley Regional Airport needs new automated parking system to replace ‘old unreliable’

Tom Ross

YVRA runway to close April 14 until morning of June 15

Yampa Valley Regional Airport will be closed for paving and widening beginning at 10 p.m. April 14 at 10 p.m. and continuing until 7 a.m. June 15, when the airport will be open for flights again.

The 60-day closure has been long anticipated, in fact it was originally planned for autumn 2014. However, delays in federal funding pushed it into 2015. The timing of the runway re-paving is intended to coincide with the end of ski season and one of the least busy periods at the commercial airport in Hayden, which serves Steamboat Springs and the rest of Northwest Colorado.

Anyone with questions about the closure may contact the YVRA management office at 970-276-5000.

— The automated parking payment system at Yampa Valley Regional Airport has never been reliable since it was first installed in 2006. The credit card reader intermittently fails to raise the exit gate and historically has left frustrated travelers to try and figure it out.

Things have improved since then, but now the old automated system is doomed.

The airport has staffed an old-fashioned booth during periods of high traffic to collect the fees from travelers leaving the airport and also maintains a backup payment machine in the baggage claim area for times when the automated system is feeling cranky.

So, Routt County commissioners didn’t blink Tuesday when Airport Manager Kevin Booth informed them that 3M, which acquired ownership of the automated system from Federal APD in 2012, is dumping the business. Reportedly, 3M will continue shipping replacement parts for the system to re-sellers through March.

Booth has only been on the job for a few weeks and inherited the old parking payment system. But he had the task on Tuesday of telling the commissioners that a new automated parking system is in their future.

“Our parking system out there — which is our third ranking source of income — the gates and all, are not a good system,” Booth said.

But 3M’s exit isn’t the only factor in the demise of the system. Several credit card companies have indicated to Booth that they will pull use of their cards in April because the old system no longer meets data security standards for the industry. Plus, the company that has been servicing the system has declined to sign a new contract, Booth said.

Booth is working on several strategies to hold things together until a new system can be purchased and installed. They include increasing the hours when the parking lot payment booth is staffed, determining if the point-of-purchase system in the airport restaurant could serve as a backup, or simply leaving the parking lot gate up at night when there is very little revenue to be lost.

The parking issues will be largely moot beginning late on the evening of April 15 and continuing until the morning of June 15 when a major runway paving project at YVRA will close the airport.

Revenue from the $9 maximum daily fee to park at the airport is a big deal, representing the third largest revenue stream at the airport.

County Manager Tom Sullivan said a ballpark figure for a new system would be $200,000 and added that one year’s revenues would cover it. Parking revenue has been as high as $260,000 annually in the last half dozen years.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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