So the port wants to build a $413 million rental-car center at Sea-Tac. The center will house 5,400-cars at most.

Sea-Tac light rail station? More than 3,000 daily riders at just $73 million.

Sure, apples-and-oranges, whatever. The fact is, cars are hugely expensive, their infrastructure is even more expensive, but few bat an eye when $413 million is spent on them.

Photo from the STB flickr pool.

11 Replies to “Yet again, Transit is Cheaper than Cars”

  1. $413 Million for an ugly parking structure, wow…

    The irony could be that car renters might ride the Link from the airport to get to the facility. From the map on the Times article, it’s just across the freeway from the Tukwila Intl Blvd station.

    BTW that photo of Tacoma Link looks really familiar. I think I saw it in ST’s Regional Transit Map Book (the latest one). I’m not sure, but it really looks like it.

  2. Ooops… Sorry. I didn’t read the article. “Customers would be shuttled to the site by bus.” But anyway just the thought of it puzzles me.

  3. $413,000,000 are you kidding me?

    That’s almost $100K per car!

    The port is run by crazy people.

  4. Yup, $100k per car is about right. I had a campus parking lot specialist tell me that installing a parking lot was about a $2k per spot endeavor. Given that parking garages must be overbuilt to hold cars, this is about right.

  5. $2k per spot would be more than 200,000 spots.

    I am with anonymous, this is kind of crazy, that’s an inordinate amount of money for that few spots.

  6. IIRC, underground or garage parking costs ~$40K per spot. That was a few years ago, though.

    $413 mil still seems high.

  7. It’s not just a parking garage but a lot of other amenities, offices and crap for the rental car agencies. This a huge subsidy for them considering that they, combined, will only pay $10 million in rent.

  8. cjl,
    The rental car companies are only paying $10 million in annual rent, but the $4 rental fee brings in about $19.5 million a year. Yes, this is a charge to the rental car company’s customers, but still if the $19.5 million was charged directly to the rental car companies it would find its way back around to the customers anyway. (I get $19.5 million by dividing the $39 million figure for two years of fees in half.)

    $39.5 million per year for a $413 million dollar facility seems reasonable to me. The port should make its money back in 10 to 20 years, which is reasonable for a project of this size and longevity.

    1. A $19.5M return on $413M is a 4.7% return. Not too shabby. It will free up stalls in the airport parking garage. Not sure what the rental car companies are paying there but my guess is it’s less than you or I pay for parking so there’s the possibility of additional revenue from that as well.

      Still, $413M seems a bit spendy. Transporting people and there luggage off site whether by bus or Link also seems like a bit of a loser. Part the Port’s mandate is to make travel to Seattle/Tacoma pleasant for both business and vacation travelers.

  9. nick,
    That is true. The costs ultimately always get passed onto the consumer and in some ways this is preferable as the costs to the consumer are transparent.

    But if you were Avis, Enterprise or Hertz wouldn’t you prefer this arrangement where you are directly on the hook for about 1/3 of the “actual” annual budget? Sure, your customers are still paying but it doesn’t show up on your balance sheet.

Comments are closed.