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Overnight parking at the NAIA T3 multi-level parking facility

Many have been asking about the overnight parking rates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 and I had wanted to write on this but just didn’t have the material to share with readers of this blog. I had wanted to verify for myself the overnight parking rates at Terminal 3 but had not used the Terminal for my flights last year, which had me using all except Terminal 3 for my travels. Last weekend, I finally had the chance to check the parking rates as I left my vehicle at the airport for a weekend getaway before school (and work) starts for the second semester at the university.

IMG10027-20150114-0644Parking tickets issued at NAIA Terminal 3’s multi-level facility.

The parking fee is 300 pesos per night. This is a fixed rate and you don’t have to pay additional fees for when you exceeded the hour when you parked your vehicle. That is, even if you parked your vehicle at 7:00 AM the previous day and took it out at 5:00 PM the following day, you still get charged 300 pesos and NOT 300 pesos plus a charge for exceeding 24 hours parking.

For those parking at the multi-level facility, one just has to drive through the arrival level (ground) of NAIA T3 and turn right near the end of the driveway to enter the facility. I haven’t checked if the access at the departure level is open (perhaps a reader can verify this?) but they do have security checks between the parking facility and the terminal itself so people can go directly to the parking area without dropping off their companions and luggage at the terminal. You don’t have to drop-off your companions and luggage at the departure level and then go around the airport road again just so you can park your vehicle at the multi-level facility.

NAIA Terminal 3 multi-level parking

The multi-level parking facility of NAIA Terminal 3 is open. I have not been to T3 in a while and saw that the multi-level parking was operational only upon returning from a trip to Palawan last week. Last night, as I maneuvered to the open parking lot prior to fetching a friend at the airport, I was directed by airport security to the multi-level facility upon being informed that the open parking lot was already full. Following are a few photos of the multi-level parking at NAIA Terminal 3.

 IMG09541-20140930-1854The entrance and exit to the multi-level parking facility is at the end of the arrival level driveway.

IMG09543-20140930-1855Motorists should keep to the right heading towards the parking building. There are two lanes clearly marked for the entrance.

IMG09544-20140930-1855There are two booths but there is currently a desk where staff issue parking tickets to users.

IMG09545-20140930-1901Driving inside the facility, one realises that it is spacious and could handle the vehicles generated by the additional flights begin served by T3.

IMG09546-20140930-1902Not many people seem to be aware that the parking building is now operational based on the many spaces still available around the multi-level facility. Most people still use the open lot across from the terminal unless its closed off (full) and security staff direct them to the parking building.

IMG09547-20140930-1902Most driveways are 2-way and so provides good traffic circulation inside the facility.

IMG09548-20140930-1903The spaces nearest to the entrance to the terminal are obviously the first ones occupied.

While it took some time for authorities to finally open the multi-level parking at T3, it is a most welcome development considering many international airlines have been transferring operations to T3. These include Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines among others that will be using T3 as T1 is being rehabilitated. The rates are the same as the open lot (I paid PHP 40.oo for almost 3 hours parking.) and because your vehicle will be basically indoors, it is a good option for trips where you opt to leave your car at the airport (park & fly). NAIA charges PHP 200 per night but I think this is a very reasonable rate assuming that this is a more secure facility compared to the open lot.

Full airport operations at NAIA 3?

Articles came out over the last two weeks about Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3 finally going on full airport operations with the transfer there of five international airlines from Terminal 1. These airlines are (in alphabetical order) Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, KLM and Singapore Airlines. I’m not really sure about the terminology or how DOTC and NAIA wanted to package their press release but wasn’t Terminal 3 already operational and does “full” really mean it being maximized or optimized?

This area will be full of people as five major international carriers transfer to Terminal 3

Prior to the transfer of the 5 airlines this August, T3 was already hosting international flights, mostly by local carrier Cebu Pacific, which is classified as a low cost carrier (budget airlines). The other major international carrier operating out of T3 was All Nippon Airways (ANA) but the latter had far fewer flights compared to CebPac.

However, my interest in this “full operations” pitch is more on the other facilities of the airport and not really about the check-in and immigration operations that I am sure have enough capacities to deal with the additional airlines, flights and passengers that will be served by T3 (most booths were not utilized considering the airport served significantly fewer international flights and passengers than T1). I am also not concerned about the other features of the airport like its shops and restaurants (a regular user of T3 would make the observation that shops and restaurants have been increasing over the past years). My worry is that the airport will not have enough parking spaces for airport users.

There is already a parking problem at T3, no thanks to poor public transport services (taxi anyone?) and the absence of anything resembling an airport shuttle or express services (e.g., Airport Limousine buses). I have written in the past about the multilevel parking facility at T3 that has not been opened for public use since the terminal became operational years ago. Granted that there might have been issues with the structure itself, authorities should have also addressed the issues while they were at it fixing the myriad problems of the terminal over the past years. Much of T3’s open parking spaces have been occupied by exclusive airport taxis (coupon taxis) and there are people who have made the observation that many of the parked cars are actually those of people gambling in the casinos of a nearby resort hotel complex. The latter story might be a bit difficult to prove unless there is deliberate data collection of some sort but can be true for some vehicles given the cheaper parking rates at the airport.

Until NAIA becomes public transport-friendly and perhaps a airport shuttle services can be provided for the convenience of travelers, parking will remain as an issue for many especially during the peak periods or seasons. And with the NAIA Expressway currently under construction, I would expect the airport terminals to be more accessible to private vehicles in the future via the elevated system, thereby generating more demand for parking. Are there already proposals for the solution to this problem or are authorities again going to be dependent on the private sector for solutions?

 

Off-street parking along Tomas Morato

Not too long ago, the Quezon City government constructed off-street parking slots throughout the city. These included spaces along major roads such as Visayas Avenue, Mindanao Avenue, Quezon Avenue, West Avenue and Timog Avenue. Tomas Morato as well as the streets connecting to it were also included in the project, which benefited many people, whether they be car-users or taking public transport. I took a couple of photos last week as the wife picked up some food at a panciteria along Morato. It was early an early afternoon so traffic was free-flowing and many parking spaces are available along the avenue. Morato is well known for having many restaurants and cafes lined up along either side of the street and during their off-periods, Morato would usually be an easy drive.

Morato1The off-street parking spaces along Tomas Morato are free and are not allocated for any specific establishment. In practice though, the spaces in front of certain restaurants, shops, banks, etc. are “reserved” by their staff for their customers/clients.

Morato2Many newer establishments along Tomas Morato have no provisions for off-street parking for their clients. This means the burden for parking continues in being passed on to the local government and, likely, at the expense of taxpayers.

I still believe that establishments that are required under law to provide at least the minimum number of parking spaces as per national building code should be made to compensate for the city’s construction of parking spaces to solve on-street parking issues along streets like Morato. I understand that they pay local taxes but that is an entirely different requirement that is not related to their being required to provide parking spaces for their customers/clients. It’s really a matter of doing the right thing for both city and these establishments but such cases are often muddled and are not tackled as the general public is usually not interested in these somewhat unpopular topic of parking.

New parking rates at NAIA

Here’s something for those who are parking at any of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s parking facilities. Here are a few photos showing the new parking rates at NAIA, effective December 1, 2013. Gone are the flat rates of old for those picking-up relatives or friends so it actually discourages people from camping out at the parking lots. Gone, too, are the low overnight parking fees of PhP 50 per night that a lot of people enjoyed for short trips on business or as tourists in local destinations or abroad.

IMG07555-20131221-1202Information on new parking rates at NAIA effective December 1, 2013 found along the left side of the approach to the parking lot entrance.

IMG07556-20131221-1203Announcement on the new NAIA parking rates just before the entrance booths of the lot

IMG07557-20131221-1250Information on the new parking rates at the exit of the lot and just before the payment booths.

It goes without saying that with the increased parking fees at the NAIA, people would expect more in terms of the quality of these facilities particularly pertaining to security and cleanliness. One cannot expect to pay for PhP 300 per night for an open parking space where one’s vehicle is exposed to the environment as well as to possible criminal elements lurking about. Of course, there is practically no competition for these parking facilities so there is a sizable captive market for NAIA parking. In my experience, and in fairness to airport management, I have not had any untoward incidents when I did leave our vehicle at the parking lots of Terminals 2 and 3. And I have done so many times before on trips to the Visayas and Mindanao, and a couple of times on trips abroad. I hope others, too, won’t have any problems with parking at the airport.

On the increase in overnight parking fees at NAIA

I’ve been reading some posts on social media complaining about the increase in the overnight parking rates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). This seems to be a recent development considering the last time we used any of the parking facilities of NAIA was last November 23 when the wife parked to wait for my arrival at Terminal 2. It wasn’t overnight parking but then she said she doesn’t recall seeing any signs announcing changes in the parking rates. The posts I saw through Facebook are for overnight parking at Terminal 3 where the old charges were 50 PHP (about 1.14 USD) per day. This is actually very cheap even considering that parking is on an open lot with marginal security. Even parking lots in Makati, Taguig and Ortigas charge more for overnight parking on open lots.

The new rate is basically 300 PHP per day including taxes, which apparently surprised a lot of people after everybody got used to the 50 PHP/day rate of old. That meant that for a 3 night trip to Bangkok or Singapore, for example, where people left their cars at the airport, they had to fork over 900 PHP instead of the 150 PHP they used to pay for parking. Indeed, that’s a big jump in parking fees!

NAIA’s parking rates can be compared to the parking rates at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is provided in their website. 30 USD (about 1,315 PHP) is charged for 24 hours for use of the multi-level/covered parking structures at the airport. Meanwhile, open lot parking charges 12 USD (about 526 PHP) per day. Suddenly, NAIA’s parking charges don’t seem to be expensive beside the 526 PHP/day charge at LAX. However, these rates are arguably in a country where there are higher wages and standards of living and so perhaps a fairer comparison would be for parking in a major airport in ASEAN. Doing a bit of research online, I found that Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport charges the equivalent of about 341 PHP per day for parking. Singapore’s Changi charges the equivalent of around 701 PHP per day. And Kuala Lumpur International charges the equivalent of about 575 PHP per day for parking. [Note: Rates from the link may not be updated.] These are generally for multi-level parking buildings where vehicles are practically protected against the environment (e.g., rain, sun, etc.).

A comparison is also made for the nearby Park n’ Fly facility, which also publishes their parking rates in their website. The site of the private parking provider states a rate of 340 PHP + EVAT (taxes) per day. And this is for a multi-level, covered parking structure near NAIA Terminals 1 and 2. An argument can be made here for the location and proximity of NAIA parking spaces compared to Park n’ Fly but note that the fee for the private entity includes airport transfers with their own vehicle. Compared to this, the NAIA rates are quite expensive considering that it is for open lot parking and for what is perceived as marginal security. In fairness to airport parking security, I have not heard or read about incidents of burglary or stolen vehicles in relation to NAIA parking areas.

And so there are many questions that need to be answered in as far as the sudden and steep increase in parking rates at NAIA. The most important question here is what is the basis for the parking rate increase? It is assumed that the additional monies generated will cover certain expenses like security and maintenance. So there needs to be transparency in where the additional funds will go or how it will be allocated (e.g., repair works towards ultimately opening the multi level facility at T3). Also, perhaps the information dissemination for this rate increase was lacking and therefore ineffective in advising the public about the change. But then there was generally no major uproar over the increase so perhaps those complaining weren’t paying attention or were caught in the transition to the new parking rates. One can even say that certain posts in social media can be qualified as rants rather than objective takes on parking rates.

I would like to think that parking as an amenity should not generally be a revenue generating scheme for the airport. Collected fees should cover operating expenses and excesses can be used to build a trust fund, for example, for future expansion of the facility, but the latter should be clearly spelled out in a plan for the airport. After all, it is in the best interest of the public, the users of the airport, if improvements can justify what they are paying for and how much they are paying.

Another look at traffic along Morayta, Recto and Legarda

Heading to another appointment one morning, our driver avoided Quezon Boulevard and the Quiapo area, which we learned later had serious flooding at the underpass. Our driver said we were actually waved off by a traffic enforcer from heading into Quezon Blvd. to head instead towards Morayta and Recto. And so I decided to take some new photos along our way, which took us to Morayta, Recto, Legarda, P. Casals and Ayala Blvd.

IMG06413-20130717-0931Morayta Street with the Far Eastern University (FEU) at right is part of an area that is called the University Belt because of the academic institutions located in the area including several major universities like FEU, the University of the East (UE), the University of Sto. Tomas (UST), San Sebastian College, San Beda College, Centro Escolar University and College of the Holy Spirit.

IMG06414-20130717-0931On-street parking along Morayta Street – there should be parking fees for such spaces in Manila since vehicles significantly reduce road capacities and cause congestion. These streets are public spaces and should benefit the general public and not just a few people who happen to have cars but no parking space in an area where space is very limited and therefore valuable.

IMG06415-20130717-0933Approach to intersection of Morayta with Recto Avenue.

IMG06416-20130717-0933Recto Avenue eastbound with the elevated tracks of the LRT Line 2.

IMG06417-20130717-0935Approach to the intersection of Recto with Loyola Street. San Sebastian College is just after the signalized intersection. The pedestrian crossing is for people crossing to or from the University of the East, which is on the other side of the road.

IMG06418-20130717-0935The alignment of the LRT Line 2 led to its posts dividing the eastbound lanes of Recto for the section between Loyola Street and Legarda. San Sebastian College is at right with its arcade walkways.

IMG06419-20130717-0935The divided eastbound lanes of Recto merge at the approach to the intersection with Legarda and Mendiola.

IMG06420-20130717-0935That’s Mendiola from across our turning vehicle with San Beda College on the left and a branch of Jollibee obscuring a view of Centro Escolar University at right.

IMG06421-20130717-0935Southbound lanes of Legarda in the general direction towards Arlegui Street. There are many new buildings along the street including the one on the right, which replaced what were already decrepit buildings and houses. Some of these houses probably had historical value but were demolished nonetheless after the property was sold to more enterprising people.

IMG06422-20130717-0936A peak at San Sebastian Church from Legarda and downstream along Bilibid Viejo Street. This image has been captured in many photos and drawings from the time it was completed during the last years of the Spanish period, to the American period until the present.

IMG06423-20130717-0936Legarda ends at its intersection with Nepomuceno and Concepcion Aguila Streets where the most prominent landmark is the National Teachers College. Here, Legarda becomes Nepomuceno and proceeds towards Arlegui and P. Casals.

Walking and parking in Quezon City: Tomas Morato

Continuing on the series featuring pedestrian and parking facilities in Quezon City, featured in this post is the case of Tomas Morato Ave. Like Visayas and West Avenues, the pedestrian sidewalks and off-street parking spaces along the avenue were constructed to address the lack of off-street parking facilities and sufficient pedestrian walkways along streets that had significant commercial development. It should be noted, however, that the lack of parking spaces is due likely to many establishments not complying with the minimum standards set under the National Building Code and City Hall’s approval of plans and construction despite this non-compliance (note: LGUs issue the building permit upon approval of plans including what is supposed to be a review of compliance to various standards.).

Morato-1A view of a stretch of Tomas Morato Ave. – note the absence of or weathered pavement markings and the vehicles parked at spaces constructed by the Quezon City government. Space was relatively more limited along Morato and so much of the spaces available were allocated for parking. Pedestrians, thus end up walking along whatever remained or along the edge of the carriageway.

Morato-2Establishments such as the many restaurants along the street. From a purely transport planning perspective, one wonders how these establishments were able to get approval from City Hall without having enough parking slots for their customers. These are not your neighborhood turo-turo or karinderya types and so they will generate a lot of vehicle traffic and require more parking spaces in addition to the token slots they provide.

Morato-3Some of the larger and older establishments along Morato already have sufficient parking spaces and these were upgraded by the LGU to have uniformity along the road.

Morato-4The off-street parking spaces definitely benefited traffic as road capacity is not reduced by on-street parking. There are still problems though especially during noon and night time when the restaurants generate traffic resulting to some vehicles parked or standing along the street.

Morato-5One issue along the street are public parking constructed using public funds being reserved by establishments such as this bank along Morato.

Morato-6Another case concerns slots reserved by restaurants like this one.

There are still issues concerning the construction of parking spaces for establishments who have not complied with building standards (minimum parking spaces). These issues are rooted on the use of public funds that otherwise could have been used for other, perhaps more important purposes such as healthcare or classrooms. However, one should not lose sight of the fact that there are benefits derived from these parking spaces from the perspective of traffic flow. Moreover, the inclusion of pedestrian facilities definitely enhance safety. These are benefits which are often quite difficult to quantify in monetary terms but contribute to better quality of life for the general public. Such projects also show that the city is doing something to improve public facilities unlike the cases of other LGUs that have sufficient revenues but seem to be lacking in the provision of similar infrastructure.

Airport parking

I’ve been to Metro Manila’s airport terminals quite frequently lately. It’s only March but I’ve traveled to Singapore twice, once using NAIA Terminal 2 for a Philippine Airlines flight in January, and again last February but using Terminal 3 for a Cebu Pacific flight. I’ve gone to Terminal 1 several times as I either dropped off or fetched the wife who flew in and out via either Singapore Airlines or Tiger Airways. Every time I went to any of the three airports, and especially when I was fetching someone, I couldn’t help but make some observations about the parking.

I’ve been to many airports including the huge modern ones in our neighboring countries. I must admit that I haven’t had the chance of using their parking facilities first hand. Most of the time I use public transportation from and to the terminals like when I use Changi or Suvarnabhumi. I have seen their parking buildings from the outside though. And I can say that my impression is that they are sufficient for their purpose whether their users be well wishers, people fetching relatives or friends, or travelers opting to leave their vehicles to return for them on their ways back.

I must say that the parking facilities of the three NAIA terminals can be viewed as a progressive case considering that there have been steady and obvious improvements when comparing features from Terminal 1 to 3. I won’t get into the technical aspects as qualitative assessment from fellow users like friends and colleagues point out that NAIA 1’s parking seem to be always full as with Terminal 2’s. The latter is quite unusual as it is used exclusively by PAL. Terminal 3 should have the largest capacity and this was expected for a terminal whose designers should have learned from the lessons of Terminals 1 and 2. However, in my recent trips to all three airports, my experiences have been quite the contrary in terms of finding a parking slot that is convenient enough; that is, not so far a walk from the respective terminal buildings.

It was surprising for me to find good parking slots in my most recent trips to NAIA 1 and 2. Meanwhile, parking at Terminal 3 seemed to be laborious especially considering the linear layout of the open parking facility. In that last sentence, allow me to emphasize open and add to it “outdoor” since Terminal 3 is supposed to have a multi-level parking building. This was supposed to be one of its features distinguishing it from 1 and 2. The problem is that airport officials have not given the go signal for this multi-level facility to be operational. This causes problems to airport users considering that there is a significant number of vehicles left by their owners for their return trips. These include overnight parkers who probably took a local trip with a schedule that prevented them from returning the same day. All these vehicles are parked along what should be a lane dedicated for traffic circulation. In fact, the line of parked vehicles extend all the way to the ramp leading to the entrance to the parking building.

Perhaps it is already time to open the parking building to the general public. It doesn’t take a genius to see that parking at NAIA 3 is already insufficient given the travel characteristics of its users. Operational costs including maintenance and security should not be a problem since users will be charged fees according to their parking durations. Also, a variety of services may be offered to users including cleaning like the ones offered in shopping malls and even quick repairs for those encountering some trouble with their engines or tires. It shouldn’t be so difficult to come up with a system for parking management that would enhance NAIA 3’s services. And it should be done now and not later.

I have other impressions of parking in the other terminals I have had the opportunity to use across the country including those of international airport in Mactan, Cebu and Davao. But these terminals do not generally serve as many people as Manila’s three terminals do so their assessments would have to be tempered against this backdrop.

Parking as an election issue – Conclusion

A couple of years ago, Quezon City embarked on several projects that led to the construction of pedestrian and parking facilities along its major roads. Pedestrian facilities include the nice, wide and well-lighted sidewalks along Tomas Morato, Panay Avenue and Visayas Avenue, the underpasses across the Elliptical Road (one connecting Quezon Memorial Circle with City Hall and the other with Philcoa), and several overpasses where the MMDA had not yet put up one. Parking slots were constructed near or in front of establishments located along streets such as Tomas Morato. These were perpendicular to the road and integrated with the pedestrian sidewalks to allow for unimpeded flow of person traffic. Upon completion, people need not have to walk on traffic lanes and be exposed to the risk of being side swiped or worse, ran over. It made sense for the walkways and parking spaces to be located in areas where there were not enough spaces. Morato, for example, was usually congested due to vehicles parked or waiting along the roadside, and pedestrians taking the road for lack of walking space.
Since all of the above infrastructure were projects implemented by the Quezon City government,  funding for these projects probably came from either the treasury of the LGU or sourced from loans such as the foreign kind. Whatever option was used, however,  it is clear that funds were drawn from or will eventually be charged to taxpayers’ money, most probably from the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of QC that is based in part from its outstanding tax collections during the 3 terms of the current, outgoing administration.
Last year, one councilor proposed that parking fees be imposed for use of the slots. That launched a firestorm of protests from fellow councilors, and groups claiming to represent the interests of the general public. Even the Roman Catholic Church pitched in with the bishop issuing a pastoral letter opposing the proposal for parking fees. Their argument against the proposed fees were anchored on the latter being anti-poor. This argument is at best peculiar considering that parking is not for the benefit of the poor but for those who owned cars. And it can be assumed that those who owned cars could afford the purchase and maintenance of those vehicles as well as the continuously increasing fuel prices. Thus, it can concluded that car owners are not to be classified as poor.
Public facilities are built using taxpayers’ money and are supposed to benefit the general public rather than the relatively fewer and privileged car owners. Funds used for the purpose of constructing parking facilities could have been used elsewhere including social and health care programs. However, parking spaces offer an opportunity for income generation that can be sustainable and could then be used to fund programs that were otherwise deprived of the budget they required due to the allocation of money for infrastructure that are not necessarily for everyone’s use (i.e., parking spaces).
In conclusion, it is clear that parking fees are not at all anti-poor and in fact can be used to generate revenues that will in turn fund programs that were deprived of budget. Further, the revenues generated are sustainable since they are by nature recurring and therefore it can be expected that such recurrence will translate into a steady source of funds for suitable use by the local government. In this case,   parking facilities may be regarded as an investment and one that is surely beneficial to the general public in the long term. Short-sighted politicians are quick to draw their guns on such and make claims to the effect of making themselves appear to be on the side of the poor. This is an obvious ruse that even the Church leadership has fallen for and demonstrated, in my opinion, their disconnection with fact and the realities in this day and age. It is only hoped that we would be able to elect leaders who are not at all ignorant of ways and means to provide for the needs of our fellowmen whether they be of the temporal or spiritual kind.