On most days, it’s a breeze to take an Uber or cab to the U.S. National Whitewater Center. But during festivals or River Jam nights, that changes.
You may have noticed this if you’re one of the thousands of people who frequents these top-notch events.
Usually you can have your driver pull all the way up to the main River Center building and they won’t have to pay the standard $5 parking fee to either drop you off or pick you up.
That policy changes for the nine community festivals the Whitewater Center hosts and the twice-weekly summer River Jam events. To get in, you have to pay the $5 cash fee to drop you off — or you have to hoof it the nearly 2 miles from the main road to the River Center. During big events, the center collects the parking fee all the way out at that first entrance.
This presents some challenges.
This presents some challenges for the often craft beer-centric events, Agenda readers have said. During drop-off time, some people get caught by surprise and don’t have the cash on hand. Other drivers ask that passengers get out at the entrance.
On the pick-up, as well, drivers will sometimes either ask for the rider to buy another parking pass or to walk out to the Whitewater Center entrance.
For the record, the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s Eric Osterhus told me that pick-ups are free of charge.
Why is the system like this?
To some extent, it’s because this is how the entrance is laid out and how popular these events are. But it’s also about offsetting the costs of the free event.
Eric told me that the Whitewater Center charges the $5 for drop-offs to help subsidize all those non-ticketed events. It’s expensive to host concerts and festivals. There’s a lot of added cost in additional service staff, security, production, and facility maintenance, he said.
It wouldn’t really work to have an automatic surcharge like at the airport.
A technology solution probably wouldn’t work because the policy changes at different times. There are not any internal discussions about setting up designated pick-up and drop-off sites to make things easier.
Could things change? Sure.
“As we continue to grow, we’ll continue to explore new ways to address the transportation needs of our guests,” Eric said.