Memphis International Airport to charge for handicapped parking - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jamel Major

Memphis International Airport to charge for handicapped parking

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - Handicapped parking has always been free, but some airport workers decided to take advantage, and now everyone must pay the price.

Starting in February of 2009, disabled travelers will be required to pay to park in the handicapped spaces at Memphis International Airport. Airport officials say the measure is necessary to ensure the availability of adequate parking for disabled travelers and guests.

The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority will charge all patrons to park in spaces designated for disabled patrons and employees. The change results from the widespread abuse of the spaces, mainly by airport workers.

"We have observed employees who we believe to be abusing the system, parking repeatedly," said Sara Hall, attorney for the Memphis Airport Authority. "We have watched spaces fill up at non-peak passenger times, and have felt these spaces were not being used by the traveling public."

Hall says some airport employees even use a family member's legitimate disabled placard or mirror tag to park in the handicapped spots.

"With over 6,000 non-airport authority employees in and around the airport, it simply isn't feasible to stop every person with a disabled plate at the exit and ask them for identification."
Hall says the airport does provide accessible spaces to tenant employees that are convenient, but they haven't been using them. But starting February 1, that will more than likely change as Memphis Airport joins other airports across the country - including Atlanta, Houston and Chicago's O'Hare - that charge for disabled parking. 
Over the past 18 months, the airport authority has voluntarily spent over $300,000 to improve accessibility to its garage, walkways and terminal.

Click here to e-mail Jamel Major.
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