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Sunday , 14 July 2024

On-Road Parking Exploring Solutions

The panel discussion on “On-road parking” held during the TrafficInfraTech Expo last year in Delhi looked at the challenges of vehicle parking on streets, especially in cities.


Bhure Lal

Former Chairman, FCI Chairman Environment Pollution Prevention and

Control Authority

If there is no mobility there will be no economic development, capital will fly away; that has been the experience of so many upcoming states within the country. Mobility should be fast and available road re sources should be utilized properly so that we avoid the impediments and reach our destination in time. Road growth, vehicle growth and economic growth move hand in hand. In India, vehicle growth moves much faster than economic or industrial growth, almost three times faster; that has been the experience of China also. During the period 1999-2009, there was more than 100% growth of vehicles in China, with the number of vehicles likely to go up to 200 million by 2020 and 400 million by 2030. This is about 1500 vehicles a day; in India this number is about 1100 vehicles a day. Many Asian countries have ambitious vehicle development programs and many big auto companies have shifted to Asia. The annual growth of vehicles in USA and Canada is between 2–5% while the rate in India and China is more than 10%. The rationale behind parking is easy access for users, facilitating free flow of traffic and movement from one place to another without impediments. But the exponential growth of vehicles in the country has impeded mobility due to heavy traffic congestion. This problem is further aggravated by improper parking. The use of traffic lane for parking is wastage of valuable space. For parking, a vehicle needs space at three sites: residence, market and work, and while it is on the road, the road space it needs. A part of the problem is that 11% of commercial urbanized land is under parking in Delhi. This is very expensive, considering the cost of real estate, and that only 20% people of Delhi possess cars and the person-car ratio is 130 per 1000. Even service roads in many parts of Delhi are occupied by parked vehicles.

The demand for parking will grow in future and will lead to instability in the society. A car needs 32m2 of land to park, taking into account parking spaces at home, work and the market. So what should be our social policy? Should we give 80m2 areas to a family for a house or for a car to park? This is the decision that is to be taken today. If this situation continues, personalized vehicles will increasingly dominate roads; they are already dominating the roads. Cars carry themselves, not the passengers. Public transport buses occupy 3% of the roads space and they carry 40% passengers, whereas private vehicles occupy 60% of the road space and carry only 35% of the passengers. If we want quick mobility, people should use public transport, which must be flexible, reliable and dependable. This is the gap which the government should come forward to fulfil. We have to also ensure that cars are not parked on roads and service roads, rather should be parked in the spaces provided – such as their allotted parking spaces in residential buildings.

In Delhi there are about 293 parking lots. The cost of these sites is phenomenal, therefore the construction cost of parking is very high. For conventional parking, this is about 4-6,00,000/m2 while for automated parking, it is about 8-9,00,000/m2. Added to this is the problem that both the automated and conventional type parking lot owners ask for 25% more space for commercial purposes, which adds to the parking load again. Just imagine the volume of traffic and related problems this will create in the already congested streets by this extra 25%. Therefore, as far as automated parking is concerned, the experience in Delhi has not been very encouraging. In many cases the retrieval of vehicles takes long time and many security concerns are there. People prefer surface parking.

“If automated parking has to be more popular, there must be difference between parking rates for surface and automated multi-level parking – surface parking rates should be double that of multi-level parking.”

People should be made to think more than twice when they feel tempted to park on the road. Parking facilities should not be created to facilitate more parking and usage of cars by people, instead there should be a policy to restrict parking and use of private cars as is being done in other countries. In case of Bangkok, they have more than 1300 car business systems but still they demand more. In Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore there are more than 67 Central Business Districts but they have been able to contain their parking. Parking slots remain empty for the most of the time. Out of 8760 hours in a year, on an average, a vehicle remains in use on the roads just for 400 hours, rest of the time it stays parked and encroaches upon valuable land. Therefore, the use of public transport system is essential. Parking on roads must be avoided; parking must be authorized and regulated. Parking fee should be a tool to discourage private vehicles from parking. For street parking, there should be possession tax and pick & ride system. Cycle tracks must be provided and again the enforcement must be improved. There should be definitely a much higher penalty for illegal parking. Unfortunately, the ticket that the police gives is normally for just 100 which they throw on the face of the policeman and walk away. Also, electronic fine system should be introduced. The police challans are all going to the wrong addresses because of wrong data, therefore the database must be updated, corrected and verified. Again, the fine amount should be enhanced as done by Pune Municipal Corporation. Since, under the Motor Vehicles Act, the amount of fine cannot be increased, Pune Municipal Corporation has come out with a novel scheme. Under their local arm, It has enhanced the fine for wrong parking and parking in pedestrian areas to 2000/-. A similar scheme was operated for some time by the Delhi police too during the last Commonwealth Games.

Taj Hasan

Special Commissioner Police/Traffic,

Delhi Police

We are seeking a solution of the on-street parking issue, whereas it should not be an issue. Rather, we have to seek a solution to implement public transport system. An efficient, affordable and multi-modal public transport system should cover the whole city, not in parts. It should not be that there is good connectivity from point ‘A’ point to point ‘B’ and nothing from ‘C’ point to ‘D’ point. In such a situation, if the commuter does not get a public transport vehicle, then he would not use public transport in the future, but rather his or her own car. In Delhi, there is the metro, there is good connectivity, and the number of people using the metro is very high but at the same time number of car users is also quite high. The reason is that we do not have a multi-modal transport system.

Currently, our policy is to facilitate movement of cars whereas our policy should be to facilitate movement of people. We should move people from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ and not the car between the two points. We will never be able to do that because as mentioned earlier, the increase in the cars is exponential. If there is a good public transport system in Delhi, the commuter getting down at Connaught Place, or any other place in Delhi, is assured to get a bus to his or her destination. This is the situation in South Korea which has a vibrant public transport system with multi modal linkages. The same car can be used as a taxi. But ten years ago, the condition there was pathetic, so we can implement such a public transport system here too.

If a commuter living in Nazabghad needs to come to R K Puram, he will take a metro route through Connaught Place and take a cab from Connaught Place to

R K Puram, and not use his or her car.

There were two policies the government can take for encouraging public transport – to discourage purchase of cars or to discourage the usage of cars. Many countries have not taken the route to discourage purchase of cars, as this affects the automobile industry and a thriving economy; rather they have discouraged the use of cars. Cars can be taken out on weekends; these trips are not to offices and business centres but general trips in the city.

Now the main question is what kind of city we want: a high pollution city or a city which offers walkability and walking pleasure. Similarly, what kind of development do we want: a block to block development of the market complex or one unified market place? When you have a system of block kind of business dynamics then you have to have a car. In Houston, in the US, 40% of the city land goes for parking because there is no walkability and there is a block type of development structure, with each block being about 2km long. So the moot question is not the parking on the road, on the footpath etc. These are just symptoms and we will not be able to handle them if we don’t address the main issue. We should have a good BRTS. The cost of construction of a metro is very high as compared to a good efficient and specific transit road for the BRTS buses. But the implementation should not be piecemeal, it should be a holistic project. The implementation issue is very difficult because the police faces so many problems without solution.

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