Airport ends shuttle service to rental-car lots

Now that the new terminal building is open at the Medford airport, the shuttle service taking passengers to and from the car rental parking lot has ended.

Two 14-passenger buses ferried between 250 and 300 people a day between the terminal and rental car lots. While four of the airport's five rental car companies say they no longer need the shuttle service because the parking lot is right outside the building, former shuttle driver Mike Curry begs to differ.

"The ladies liked it, because they didn't have to walk in the dark during the morning," said Curry, one of four drivers who worked about 20 hours a week.

He said he shuttled about 79 to 80 passengers in a three-hour period.

"I got tipped — usually when I handled enough luggage to kill a horse," he said.

Airport Director Bern Case said the service, operated by Chicago-based Standard Parking, was specifically hired to run shuttles to long-term parking areas during construction.

"Some of the (rental car) lots are within 100 feet of the building now," Case said. "So the distance is minuscule compared to what it was before."

However, Budget Rent A Car, whose lot is farthest away from the terminal, has continued day-time shuttle service.

All five rental companies bid for airport lot space, based on a minimum annual guarantee. Budget wound up the farthest from the terminal and the Parsippany, N.J.-based company began operating its own shuttle last summer.

"From a customer service aspect it makes sense," said Kim Daniels, agency operator for Budget Rent A Car in Medford. "There are two schools of thought financially (whether to put in a higher bid for a closer location). But we couldn't put a price on the kind of customer service aspect; there are times when people need it, no matter where the parking spots are. There are some situations where passengers don't want to walk to where the cars are — if someone is disabled or they have three kids and car seats."

Budget's shuttle runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Curry predicts airport passenger traffic someday will pick up to the point where travelers will be forced to park much farther away.

"As economic times get better the lots will get fuller and the distance from car rentals to the new terminal will get longer," Curry said. "Budget is a long walk now. Parking habits will change and people want to walk the shortest distance."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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