Friday , 19 July 2019

In Search of Solutions

Arvind Mayar

Secure Parking operates both the NDMC multilevel car parks at Sarojani Nagar and Baba Kharak Singh Marg. There are two solutions for the on-street parking problems which the government is implementing. The first one is to make more off-street car parks so that the availability of car parking is increased. For example, the parking lot at Connaught place can hold 1400 car while the one at Sarojani Nagar has a capacity of 840 cars.

The other solution is to increase the parking tariff so that the people find it too expensive to park and tend to not use the car, like it happens in most cities in advanced countries such as London, New York, Sydney etc. Now the government here too, the NDMC and MCD are recognizing the problem and they are increasing the tariffs. The tariffs have doubled, but again the tariffs are not high enough to deter the motorists. And the tariffs still do give sufficient return for the developers and do not reflect the investment made by them to develop the expensive parking infrastructure.

As far as more car parks are concerned, both the NDMC and MCD, Delhi Metro, Government Authorities and City Development Authorities in all the cities are building more parking facilities. There are three important aspects which need to be taken into account while building the car parks: Design, Technology and Operations. The design and technology of the car park have to be suitable for the environment in which it is operated. For example, the multi-level car park at Sarojani Nagar is one of the best maintained, uses the latest technology and is one of the cleanest car parks in Delhi but people are not using it much. This is because the time taken to park a car is very high. It is about two minutes per car and if there are ten cars coming in ahead, a user has to wait for approximately 15 – 20 minutes. This car park may be alright in an office or in a residential environment but it is not good in retail environment where people are coming and going out quickly and no one wants to wait for half an hour to get the car. Therefore one has to get right design and right technology.

Also, another important aspect from the technology point of view is control ling and maximising the revenue.

The third important part is the operations, which should be about maximizing service and not maximizing, revenue. The car park should be clean, lighted and ladies should feel secure. Many contractors just want to maximize revenue and for this, they cut corners by cutting down on lighting, they save on manpower, they save on cleanliness etc. So, I think these are the two major issues for public parking which NDMC is willing to do and now other agencies will also start.

Is there any move from the government or interest from the private players for introducing cashless payments for parking using smart phones or any other similar media?

Clearly worldwide, over 80% of the parking fees is paid through cashless medium. In India, we are still dealing mostly with cash transactions. But there are efforts that are going on, there are parking lots where you can pay by your credit cards, but the percentage of the total collection which is paid for by a cashless mechanism is less than 3% at the moment. But just like most good things it has to start somewhere and pick up because the inherent goodness in the cashless system is that the whole transaction cost is much lower.

Eventually 80% of parking transactions in India will be cashless. There are many initiatives to convert from cash to cashless as far as government is concerned. One of the biggest among them is to have electronic tolling on all the highways in the country. Whenever we go through such a toll plaza, the system automatically deducts the tolling fee from the card and the same card can be used right through the highway. There are efforts made by Delhi Metro to make these cards usable at multiple locations such as in the metro, parking lots, other transport modes etc. Even in private sector malls, you are getting Near Field communication devices and they will soon come on the telephone where you can just use your smartphone to pay for products and goods. The software has already been developed and it has to be just rolled out now and these will be used across multiple locations – shopping malls, toll plazas and so on.