The San Diego International Airport’s three-billion-dollar expansion plan has been in the works for some time and includes building more parking spaces for cars.
But with more travelers using ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber to get to the airport, NBC 7 Investigates wanted to know how many people will actually use those spaces.
In May, the airport finished building a new $128 million parking garage for Terminal Two. A new parking garage is in the works to be built for Terminal One.
After monitoring Terminal Two’s new parking garage during the month of November, NBC 7 found plenty of people were opting to leave their cars at home.
NBC 7 monitored the garage day and night throughout November and found hundreds of parking spaces available. On average, the parking garage was no more than 55-percent full each day. On the day before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year, only 57-percent of the garage’s spaces were used.
Speaking with travelers departing or returning to San Diego, NBC 7 found a majority are choosing ride-share options over parking their own car at the airport.
“[Rideshare] is the future,” said Sergey Kiro.
“It’s faster and more convenient,” traveler Ceidy Flores told NBC 7.
Ride-share data for San Diego’s airport supports the trend. Since July, the airport started tracking rideshare pickups and dropoffs and found more than 355,000 people were using these services each month. By October, the number of passengers using rideshare services rose to more than 394,000.
To see how many people used rideshare services at San Diego’s Airport since July, look below or click here.
That's not even considering the impact from public transit options. In November, Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed making Terminal One a transit hub for trolley and bus services, which could also have an impact on travelers parking at the airport.
“It's been quite a shock to the industry,” said Scott Brickner, the San Diego Airport’s Chief Financial Officer, responding to ridesharing impacts. “And so you think about things like autonomous vehicles and things that may disrupt more in the future.”
With all of the transit options to the airport, NBC 7 asked Brickner why the airport feels it needs a second, new parking garage with 10,000 spaces. Brickner said Terminal Two’s new garage will provide parking spots when construction is underway in other parts of the airport when parking there is disrupted.
Brickner and Dennis Probst, who is tasked with overseeing the airport’s expansion project, believe the rapid increase in the use of ridesharing services are expected to level out eventually.
According to the airport’s initial plans, the new Terminal One parking structure was slated to be double the size of the new garage built for Terminal Two. Now, Probst said that plan is being rethought.
“In addition to watching what's going on around the country, we’re very carefully monitoring what's happening at the new [Terminal Two] parking terminal,” Probst said.
“Throughout the entire country, airports are actually being impacted by the rideshare pickup and drop-offs,” said Julie Dixon, a consultant who has worked in the transportation industry for nearly three decades.
Dixson said the impacts of ridesharing on airports can be seen firsthand, adding that San Fransisco’s airport was one of the first to experience the impact, given it’s where the concept of peer-to-peer ridesharing was born.
L.E.K., an international research firm, found airports across the globe are figuring out how to deal with these trends.
L.E.K. noted in their study that the Pittsburg International Airport had originally planned a new 5,000 space garage structure but after considering ridesharing trends, reduced the size to 3,500 spaces.
Brickner said planning ahead for the airport expansion is an expensive juggling act.
“To ensure that we are meeting the demand for parking in the future but we're not overbuilding or underbuilding,” Brickner told NBC 7.
Rideshare services are having an impact outside of San Diego’s airport also.
According to sales reports, released by the Port of San Diego to NBC7 Investigates, five paid parking lots surrounding the airport have also been affected by ridesharing.
Those parking lots, the “Park ‘N Fly” and “San Diego Park, Shuttle & Fly” parking lots, saw revenues decrease in the last three years.
This led the Port of San Diego to take the dramatic step of reducing those parking lots’ rental rates to 25-percent of the lots’ yearly revenues, just so that they could stay open.