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News Apr 13, 2012 - 2:51 PM

Purchase college entrepreneurs relieve parking crunch at HPN

By Purchase Park 2 Fly

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Purchase, NY - Finding parking at Westchester County Airport’s (HPN) crowded, 1,200-space garage can jangle the nerves of the most seasoned traveler, especially when you are one of 1 million annual passengers in a hurry to hop on a business express. But, parking to fly in and out of the regional airport no longer needs to be cause for anxiety.

Purchase Park 2 Fly (PP2F), a business of the Purchase College Association, Inc. (PCA) a non-profit organization affiliated with Purchase College, SUNY, has created a quick, less expensive, and convenient parking alternative for passengers. Park in one of the college’s nearby parking lots for $10 a day, then board a free shuttle for a quick trip to the airport. The service has taken off with a sonic boom.

“The success of PP2F in our first year of operations is beyond all expectations,” said William Guerrero, president of PP2F, executive director of the (PCA), and a professor of Entrepreneurship at Purchase College, who conceived of the idea for PP2F along with Joe Tripodi, director of Campus Sustainability.

“We parked 50,000 cars in our first year of operation, have a Facebook fan base of 800+ friends, and have projected revenues of $700,000,” he said. “We also installed two electric vehicle charging stations, created 21 jobs for the county, reduced the environmental impact of expanding the current garage (located near Kensico Reservoir) and have received continual thumbs-up from our customers for the new service.”

The idea was simple: The existing airport garage had a space crunch. Purchase College had a large parking lot that had excess capacity most of the year, and it was only 5 minutes by car to the airport. Charge less for parking and offer a free ride to passengers to and from the airport.

PP2F Becomes A Learning Experience for Business Students

After the conception of the idea for PP2F, Guerrero turned the venture into an entrepreneurial learning experience for his students, for whom it became a case study. One of the students liked the challenge so much he is now the full-time marketing coordinator for PP2F.

Guerrero attributes the success of PP2F to the convenience of having 24/7 valet service, the efficiency of using two branded shuttle buses and one passenger van to take passengers to and from the airport, and charging only $10 for parking (versus $27 at the airport).

Planning began four years ago, when Guerrero got the enthusiastic support of Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz. PP2F parked its first car on April 1, 2011. While faculty, staff and students at Purchase College made up a percentage of the initial users, Purchase Park 2 Fly caters to pilots and flight attendants, frequent business travelers, small corporate accounts and vacationers.

“Most travelers now find us through a Google search, electronic boarding passes, social media, direct mail and MTA advertisements,” said Guerrero. “They schedule directly from our Web site (www.pp2f.org). Our fan base of 850 on Facebook keeps growing, and when we offer $5-a-day specials to spread the word about our service, we get a huge response.” During some holidays, there are as many as 400 cars parked in the lot on Purchase College’s campus.

Parking Proceeds to Help Students, Campus Improvements

As a start-up business, PP2F is, remarkably, almost breaking even after one year. When it becomes profitable, PP2F proceeds will help fund student scholarships and campus capital improvements, such as roadways and facilities.

To find out more about PP2F, call 914.251.6473 or visit http://www.ppf2.org for more information.

Purchase College, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) network of 64 universities and colleges, was founded in 1967 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. His aspirations for Purchase were to combine on one campus conservatory training in the visual and performing arts with programs in the liberal arts and sciences. Today, Purchase College, SUNY is a community of students, faculty, and friends where open-minded engagement with the creative process leads to a lifetime of intellectual growth and professional opportunity. For more information about the College, visit www.purchase.edu.

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