City needs high parking charges to control traffic chaos and dampen parking demand and car usage.
Higher revenue from increased parking charges should be reinvested to improve public transport
Parking crisis and traffic congestion are the result of growing dependence on cars and availability of cheap and free parking. Car parking is choking roads, walkways, green spaces when cars meet only 14 per cent of travel needs in Delhi.
Manage parking well, hike parking rates, limit parking where good public transport is available, and give people more attractive options for travel.
New Delhi December 8, 2011: The Centre for Science and Environment that has been advocating urgent parking reforms to reduce personal vehicle usage to cut congestion and pollution welcomes the new proposal of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to hike parking charges substantially in the city as a step towards further reform.
The current MCD rates are abysmally lower than the rates in the areas under New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and in shopping malls, cinemas, and airport. While in the prime areas of NDMC the surface parking rates are Rs 5-10 per hour, which also needs further hike, in MCD areas the current rates work out to be a mere Rs 1 per hour. Ironically, a car user pays a pittance for parking compared to what a bus user pays as fares for a regular daily journey in Delhi. CSE urges the municipal agencies to immediately eliminate generous supply of free and cheap parking in Delhi.
Without the strategy to discourage car usage the ongoing investments in Metro and improved buses may not give the best results of lowering congestion and pollution. The National Urban Transport policy of the Government of India has already stated that urban land is limited and valuable and the parking fee should represent the value of land occupied to make public transport more attractive. The Supreme Court appointed Committee Environment Protection (Pollution and Prevention) Control Authority has also asked for a hike to discourage car usage and promote public transport in Delhi.
Parking demand is insatiable, entails enormous cost – pollution, congestion, traffic delays, fuel wastage. Uncontrolled, free and cheap parking encourages more car dependency. “Solutions do not lie in capturing more valuable urban land for car parks but in shifting to other modes and releasing the space for other important uses” says Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, Centre for Science and Environment. Uncontrolled parking will block the options of using the same land for other uses like school, affordable housing, commercial centre or public greens and walking spaces.
Car parks use up high value urban land but pays nothing or pittance for using the land. The subsidy to the car owner works out to be even higher if the rental or the land cost of the parking space in prime areas is considered. Increased investments in expensive multistoried structured car parks will further increase the subsidy burden as the parking rates are not fixed to recover the cost. This also leads to very iniquitous use of urban land. A car gets about 23 sq m to be comfortably parked in a structured parking lot. But a very poor family in Delhi gets a plot area of just 18-25 sq.m. Is this acceptable?
Globally, cities are desperate to free up road space from cars. They are making car park prohibitive; adding high premium to car ownership; charging high for entering prime busy areas; allowing only a fraction of them on roads at a time; or just not allowing them in targeted city centre. They are also giving people more options to cars.
With the help of parking policy and public transport strategy it is possible to arrest and reverse the unsustainable trends, especially now when car usage is still low in the city. RITES survey shows that cars carry just about 14 per cent of the daily commuting trips.
Parking policy has many goals – cut congestion, air pollution and energy guzzling. Even in the car manic US, the city of Boston has frozen their parking requirements at a level that is only 10 per cent higher than the total parking available in 1973 to meet the Federal clean air standards. In New York very high parking fees and limited parking supply have lowered car ownership far below the average rates in other US cities. In Amsterdam parking fees are expanded to meet the standards for NO2 and PM10. Trucks are allowed to unload for a maximum of 15 minutes in spots where they are not allowed to park. Zurich considers total NO2 emissions when determining the amount of parking to be allowed.
Hong Kong and Tokyo have more restricted car parking infrastructure. Despite high car ownership Tokyo provides less parking slots – only 0.5 slots per 100 sq meters in commercial buildings. But Delhi with much less cars provides 2-3 parking slots per 100 sq meters. In Hong Kong the office buildings in the central area can have zero to minimal parking as these areas are well connected with other modes. Residential parking requirements also vary depending on its accessibility. Authorities can decide parking requirements on a case-by-case basis. Cities in the Netherlands have parking standards based on the accessibility of each location. Let us learn too.
Well managed and priced parking will benefit all
Car user will benefit: With well managed and ITS served parking car users can have more reliable and predictable advance information about parking that can reduce cruising time and save fuel. Efficient billing makes payment more transparent and accurate. This decreases traffic chaos due to indiscriminate on-street parking.
Non-car user will benefit: Majority in Delhi will benefit from a reformed parking policy as only 19% of households in Delhi own cars. Well managed parking will help to protect footpaths and allow barrier free walking, frees up public spaces for cycle tracks, rickshaw parking, autoriskshaw-parking, play grounds and also improves access to bus-stops. Improve safety of children, women and elderly people. Removal of cars from the shopping frontage improves access to shops, and increases throughput of customers and volume of business. Well managed common parking can make it easier for emergency vehicles like ambulances, fire trucks, police, etc. to reach all homes/ offices/ buildings.
Public health will benefit: Paid and restricted and well managed parking can reduce car use and air pollution. Air pollution is already taking heavy toll as large number of people is suffering from respiratory diseases like asthma, cardiac problems. Long term exposure to such levels will cause increased occurrence of cancers and other diseases in most individuals. Noise level can also be controlled.
The Way ahead:
Globally it is recognised that infinite parking supply cannot meet insatiable parking demand if additional measures are not implemented to control parking demand and car usage:
Higher parking charges will encourage shift to alternatives as people are more sensitive to direct cost of driving.
Maximize parking revenue and use it to improve public transport.
Use parking for multimodal integration that gives priority to buses, non-motorised transport and walking. Also meet the parking needs of freight transport.
Use parking spaces as common, shared, priced public parking spaces and not privately owned individual spaces
Parking policy should aim to reduce vehicle traffic (particularly urban-peak traffic) to reduce congestion, accidents, pollution, etc. This should be combined with ongoing efforts to strengthen and scale up public transport in the city