On October 31, Chicago O’Hare opened a brand new $841m rental car facility, effectively bringing all airport rental car services under one roof. This multimodal facility also acts as a connector to METRA, the local commuter rail and various other regional transportation options. At 2.5m sq feet, the facility includes amenities such as fully covered parking, a plethora of restrooms, future concessions and even a service dog relief station.

No More Outdoor Parking Lots

For anyone who has picked up a car covered in snow, this is a welcome addition to ORD. Besides enhancing passengers’ accessibility and drastically reducing traffic in and around the terminals, the parking and rental car facility is just the first of many upgrades in the works as ORD preps for a proposed $8.5bn terminal expansion project, which is slated to be completed within the next decade. Partial funding of $272m for the project was financed with the Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan obtained in 2013.

First Take Review

It just so happened that I was luck enough to be picking up a car on 10/31 and dropping it off less than 16 hours later the very next day. Here’s some video of my first impressions of the facility:

For those wondering who’s paying that lighting bill, and making up the balance of the cost of this facility, he noticed an ever so slight increase in the taxes and fees on his rental agreement.

It wouldn’t be such a tough pill to swallow had the rollout of this facility been a little more smooth. As discussed on a previous episode of Miles to Go, the ORD people mover was shut down for most of Summer 2018 as final preparations were made for the opening of this building. While the people mover does not yet connect to the new rental car facility, it soon will. Until that time, passengers no longer have to keep an eye out for shuttle busses marked for specific rental companies There are designated shuttles that now transport between individuals terminals and the consolidated multimodal building.

It would be nice if ground staff knew which busses went to which terminals (or which airlines serviced which terminals) but perhaps that’s just asking too much on day two? There are even these new beautiful digital signs at each bus stop, yet they don’t show the terminal which is being served by that bus.

The biggest issue experienced with the new facility is truly that of signage and directions. Besides the issue mentioned above, If you’re not familiar with ORD, all the old rental car locations are still present on Google Maps and almost all other map software programs. (Note: As of Nov. 7th, the addresses were still there, but at least the new address was also listed.)

You’re also going to want to keep an eye out for a new exit when returning your rental car. It’s one exit before the old one, which all existing road signs still point towards. There’s only one temporary LED construction sign that mentions the new exit, located directly in front of said exit. While you can get to the facility via the old exit, there’s a lot of construction and extra lights you’ll have to deal with.

The post Chicago O’Hare Opens New Rental Car Facility was first published on Coworkaholic.