Talking about the cost of land allocated to private parking, Datar gave the example of 400 square feet allocated to a 2 BHK for parking. “The market price for this area is fifty lakhs, but it is given away for free. I don’t see why it should be free; when there is no free space for slums or low-cost housing, why should there be free space to house cars?”
According to Datar, the authorities are afraid of beginning parking reforms because they feel that everybody is too used to the present scenario of free parking for all, anytime, anywhere. “But if we usher in parking reforms, we don’t need to spend 2,000 crore rupees on a coastal road because the existing road space will be quite adequate for all the buses which are currently deprived of space. With parking removed or controlled, buses can definitely speed up by 25%. If buses and other vehicles also have 25% higher speed, 25% lesser vehicles are required to carry the same number of people.”
It is strange that while there are eight offences listed in the manual of the traffic police, all of them have the same fine. He said that we must change the present parking-fee structure that charges a certain amount per hour, in which the minimum time-slab is one hour, to a structure that divides the hour into 15 or 30 minutes blocks and divides the charge accordingly. This will discourage long-term parking. Cars should also be classified into those more than or less than 1.95 metre length; only 25 of 140 existing models are longer, and are luxury vehicles. They can be easily identified and a 10-rupee surcharge or premium can be levied on them for parking.
The way Chennai Smart City is promoting private participation for implementing parking management in the city. Chennai is hopeful to become a first city in India to implement technology based on-street parking management.
– Raj Cherubal
Speaking of his experience in another metropolitan city, Chennai, Raj Cherubal, said, “One of the first things we had to prove was that there was actually parking available. We went around marking spaces for parking with simple yellow lines; what was amazing is that even autorickshaws, which everybody thinks will misbehave, started parking properly, simply because we put a yellow line. Everyone gets told they’re parking wrongly by cops, but few authorities have bothered to actually go mark an area and say, ‘this is where you can park, this is where you cannot park’”.
Chennai will be implementing the largest on-street parking management system in the world. A camera-based slot-recognition system will be able to inform people which slots are full, and where the nearest empty slot is. The same vendor will also have the right to clamp a car parked in the wrong place.
“Our first challenge was to show the public that parking management is actually good for everybody”, said Cherubal. “For example, people park in front of shops and disappear for long hours. Prospective customers of the shops arrive in cars, see that there is no parking near the shop, and leave. Shops lose business.” Parking management will ensure that the areas outside shops are parking-free.
In the intelligent parking management system, one will be able to determine the number plate of a car as well. Hence, over time, the system will able to inform the driver that he is burning an ‘X’ amount of carbon and spending ‘Y’ amount of money for his daily commute. It will be able to suggest to him that taking a bus for the same journey will save him ‘Z’ rupees every day, and also offer a discount on the bus pass.
“Parking is like a commodity”, Cherubal concluded. “If you price it too low, you will run out of parking.”
The parking management is extremely important and for which there has to bundling of on-street and off-street parking where a single authority can implement parking management.
– Vickram B Pillai
Talking about the impact of the changing parking norms, Vickram B Pillai stated that as land becomes increasingly scarce in the city, developers find it more and more challenging to provide space for parking according to regulations. Getting approval for a project consequently becomes very difficult. “As the number of flats in a building increases, the parking requirement also increases, for which vertical growth in the form of multilevel mechanical car parking or podium/basement/multifloor parking is the only solution. Earlier, we used to sell parking spaces, now we have to provide it for free. So the cost of construction for a developer increases.”
He mentioned that in some cases though, builders have been able to take advantage of a rule that allows them to use extra FSI in exchange for using some of their space for public car parking. Pillai said that Mumbai’s municipal corporation has announced the constitution of a new Parking. Authority which will plan, regulate and manage all parking at the street level, as well as private parking within buildings under the physical jurisdiction of the municipal corporation.
Regarding the allocation for bus parking in Mumbai’s Development Plan, Datar said that earlier, public buses were never parked on road. But with bus depot space now being commercially sold off by the transport authority, there will be lesser space to house buses. Agreeing with the point about parking spaces in residential buildings being provided free of cost, he pointed out that the cost of the land on which a car parks is several times the cost of the car itself. He said that while the cost of constructing a parking space is not much, commercial rates for the land used should be charged to the owner of the car.
Chennai’s parking management system was launched in a full-fledged manner instead of first doing a pilot project. This approach was to get things at least 80% right and forge ahead. “At some point, you have to act, you can’t just keep talking and talking”, said Cherubal. Often it I stated that money generated from parking enforcement should be injected back into local infrastructure to motivate the community to accept the system. “ Eventually, the public should be able to know that a certain public convenience or structure was paid for exclusively by collecting parking charges.”