Cell phone parking lots simplify airport pickups

Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 10:54 p.m.
At least 13 airports are now sending motorists to "cell phone lots" to wait until the arriving travelers they're coming for call for a ride, a new attempt to unplug road-clogging bottlenecks at passenger pickup spots.
Los Angeles International and Seattle-Tacoma opened their first cell phone lots just in time to ease terminal congestion during the holidays. At least 11 airports opened theirs this year.
The lots, which are free, grow out of two trends of the past few years: the explosion in cell phone usage and post-Sept. 11 security measures that prohibit motorists from lingering outside terminals.
Airport managers say the lots reduce the repeated looping by pickup drivers waiting for arriving travelers. The lots also reduce the slow, erratic driving - and the illegal parking - of motorists trying to hang back to time their pull-up to their passenger's appearance.
Roadside idling became such a problem in Jacksonville that officials erected stanchions to force motorists to keep moving rather than pull off illegally.
Philadelphia had 13 accidents from January through August on approaches to the airport, police say.
Los Angeles airport spokesman Paul Haney sees an extra bonus for smoggy L.A.: Less pollution. LAX plans to open two more lots to cover its other entrances.
The lots typically are no more than two-minute drives from the terminals. Most require drivers to stay with their car. Some limit waits to 30 minutes, although some airport officials say enforcement is likely only during busy times.
The Airports Council International - North America expects more airports to try the concept, but not every one has space. Michael Civitelli, Seattle-Tacoma operations manager, says the lot must be easy to reach and convenient to the terminal to succeed.

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