Proposal would charge fee for parking at Columbia Regional Airport

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COLUMBIA - Patrons of the Columbia Regional Airport would have to pay for parking under a proposal from a city council member.

Council member Ian Thomas proposed a $5 per day fee at Columbia’s Public Transit Advisory Commission on Thursday.  

The Fourth Ward Councilman said the proposed fee could add to Columbia’s transportation fund. He said the airport has an average of 800 cars parked on its lot each day.

“If we collected just $5 a day for people parking at the airport which is minimal for business travelers then we would generate well over a million dollars a year for airport operations,” Thomas said.  

The councilman first introduced the idea at a council meeting last week. Thomas said he received no support from the rest of the city council, but he was met with a different response at Thursday’s meeting.

The commission said it was interested in exploring the idea.

“We do plan to talk about it at our next meeting. We’ll discuss which way we want to go forward. Tonight's meeting was very beneficial because we got a lot of good information.” Kathy Lee said.

Lee is the Public Transit Advisory Commission Chair. Members of the commission suggested using the money from the parking fee to create a bus system. They noted that the airport is not very accessible.

One council member said the new fee would allow the airport to support itself financially, instead of relying on funding from the city.