Daily rates for parking at RDU will go up soon, but a new lot is opening

If you’re parking at Raleigh-Durham International Airport for more than a few hours, it’s going to cost you more starting this spring.

While hourly parking rates will remain the same, the RDU Airport Authority on Thursday approved a budget that increases the daily rates at all of the airport’s parking lots. In the main parking decks between the terminals, Premier spaces will go from $18 per day to $22, while Central spaces will increase from $14 a day to $15.

At the two economy lots, which require a shuttle bus ride to get to the terminals, prices are going up $1 a day, to $8 at Economy Lot 3 and $7 at Economy Lot 4.

The Airport Authority says it’s the first increase in parking rates at RDU since 2016 and puts its fees on par with those charged by similar mid-sized airports. The new rates will take effect sometime between April 15 and May 1.

Also on May 1, RDU will begin using a dormant parking lot near the general aviation terminal for a new “trunk-to-terminal” service called ParkRDU Express. Customers who park in the lot will be picked up at their cars, rather than a central pickup point, and driven to the terminals.

The shuttle service is designed so that travelers shouldn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes at their cars before the 3- to 6-minute drive to the terminals, said Jeffrey Slayton, RDU’s director of parking. The shuttles will run 24 hours a day, Slayton said.

ParkRDU Express will cost $12 a day.

The express lot has not been used since December 2002, when it was known as Economy Lot 2. Slayton said reactivating the 1,005 spaces should help with crowding in the parking decks between the terminals. About 600 cars have to be diverted to economy lots each week because the decks are full, he said.

“If you come here during the week — Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays — you will find that our main parking garages are closed,” he said.

Parking generates a big chunk of RDU’s income. The airport expects to receive $166 million in operating revenue in the coming year, from sources such as car rentals, landing fees and leases in the terminals, and parking is expected to be the largest of these, at $61.6 million.

If you’re making a short stop at the airport, the cost to park isn’t changing. Hourly rates apply for the first four hours that a car is in the lot; after four hours, the daily rate applies. The hourly rates will remain at $3 per hour in Premier, $2 in Central and $1 in each of the economy lots.

Also on May 1, RDU’s online booking program will officially begin, though about 6,000 travelers have used it on a test basis since last June 1. The system allows travelers to pay for parking in advance; they are guaranteed entry into the lot, but they are not assigned a reserved space.

Slayton said RDU hopes that about 12 percent of travelers will book their parking online by the end of the first year.

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, #census2020. He’s been a reporter or editor for 32 years, including the last 20 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.