Airport Service Turns SUNY-Purchase Parking Lot Into Money Maker

Tim Goral's picture
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Officials at Purchase College, State University of New York, as elsewhere, have sought innovative ways to keep tuition low and cut costs. One such effort is Purchase Park2Fly (PP2F), now in existence for a year. The program allows passengers at neighboring Westchester County Airport to park on the campus’ vacant parking lot, at a cheaper rate than they could get on airport grounds and with a shuttle that picks up and drops off passengers to the airport.

Bill Guerrero, executive director of the Purchase College Association, the college’s auxiliary services arm, explains that his own experiences with parking at the airport led to the program, which he heads up. Joe Tripodi, director of the association’s sustainability office, was brought on board to serve as vice president. They researched the airport parking problem and developed a plan to utilize a vacant campus parking lot for airline travelers seeking an alternative, discounted place to park. Guerrero’s entrepreneurship class helped create a business plan.

Social media is one of the main methods of communication about PP2F. Travelers can make reservations on the Facebook page, something many organizations have not yet utilized their Facebook pages for. On any given day, the page may contain interaction between program staff and customers, including customer feedback and questions. Google ads, Groupon, and Twitter are used as well to inform the public about the new services.

Unlike most colleges, Purchase does not have a parking shortage, so finding space for the program wasn’t an issue. And with the peak season for the institution occurring during different times of the year than peak travel, there have not been any problems with students and travelers needing use of the lot at the same time, according to Guerrero. The lot is open throughout the year, 24/7, and costs $10 per day, compared to $27 at the airport.

Revenue from the program so far has been nearly $1 million, and it’s being used for scholarships and campus improvements and maintenance, including road work.

Jordan Mills, UB’s editorial intern, is a student at Central Connecticut State University.

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