Parking restraint must to reduce car usage and promote clean commuting practices, says CSE analysis

Car-free days and lower traffic volumes on holidays can lower air pollution in Delhi – parking restraint measures can help reduce air pollution

  • At day-long workshop, CSE warns that without parking restraints Delhi cannot bend the curve of explosive motorization and pollution

  • Workshop on urban parking planning and management organized by CSE here today

  • The recent move to make parking in commercial malls free in South Delhi is a regressive step. Amend the rules to charge for parking in commercial buildings 

  • Without a clear strategy for local area parking planning, only expensive multilevel parking structures cannot cut parking chaos and dampen parking demand

  • CSE survey shows car users are willing to consider alternatives only if the parking rates are more than three times higher than the current rates in multilevel car parks

  • CSE calls for integrated local area planning for parking instead of spot fixing with multi level car parks, end to parking subsidies, use of parking revenue for local area improvement and public transport reforms, stringent enforcement of legal parking and penalties for violations

New Delhi, November 23, 2015: Delhi has made humungous investments in several parking facilities without any impact on parking chaos, congestion and pollution, says a new assessment done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). These structures stand in isolation without being integrated with the local area parking planning, and are used sub-optimally. 

The result is that roads remain choke-a-block, adding to the parking chaos. “Before more urban spaces are surrendered to increase parking spaces and to the mindless and expensive construction of parking facilities for cars, it is important to get the terms of action right,” said CSE Executive Director Anumita Roy Chowdhury. She was speaking at a workshop on ‘Urban parking planning and management’ organized by CSE in New Delhi. Officials from Delhi and a few other cities, members of resident welfare associations and transport experts participated in these consultations. 

The CSE analysis says that cities need clear policy goals for parking management. The National Urban Transport Policy and the Delhi Master Plan have made it clear that a parking policy will also have to lower personal vehicle travel and urban-peak traffic with the aim of reducing congestion, accidents and pollution. But there is no policy blueprint to implement this yet.

Highlights of the CSE analysis
Delhi in grip of severe parking crisis: Growing dependence on personal vehicles has worsened the parking crisis in the city. Cars remain parked for about 90 to 95 per cent of their useful life and make enormous demand on public space. If the demand for land for parking for an average car is computed, cars already use up 10 per cent of the city’s urbanised area. This is 1.7 times higher than the total area of Dwarka. In 2014, Delhi registered 165,316 cars and 385,102 two-wheelers. Parking demand from this new annual registration was bigger than 471 football fields! Unlimited use of public space for parking and lack of public transport options has created a serious trap. Now people are killing each other over parking space.

City provides more land for car parks than for housing for poor people: About 4.5 million slum population in Delhi occupies only 3 per cent of Delhi’s area. But the parking demand generated by cars makes demand on close to 10 per cent of Delhi’s urbanized land. Low-income housing dwelling needs 25 square meters (sqm) to 40 sqm of area. A car parking slot needs 23 sq m to 28 sq m.

It is shocking that when the city is reeling under parking crisis, parking in commercial malls has been made free due to loopholes in the law:  When CSE investigated the reason behind the recent move of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to make parking in commercial malls free, it found the quirk in the law that allows such commercial institutions to not count basement parking towards the floor area ratio (FAR) of these buildings as parking is considered a ‘service’. According to ‘Development Codes’ prescribed under Master Plan of Delhi—2021 basement is not counted towards FAR if used for purposes permissible under the building byelaws of the master plan. The permissible purposes include parking and other services requirements like air-conditioning plant and equipment, etc. Therefore SDMC, and rightly so, cannot allow commercial transaction for parking under the law. Instead of just making parking free in these commercial establishments that attract enormous traffic, the rules should have been amended to introduce parking fee to restrain parking demand and parking spill-over from these buildings. This must be done immediately, said CSE analysis.

Municipal governments should implement local area parking management plan in different zones to maximize available parking spaces and not do only multilevel parking for spot fixing: International experience shows that efficient management and proper utilisation of available parking lots can increase parking capacity by at least 20-40 per cent. Neighbourhoods need judicious use of both on-street and off-street parking. Well-managed on-street parking is needed as this can lower demand for land for expensive off-site parking which is scarce. Also off-street parking needs more space and land for access that can adversely affect walkways and open areas. Moreover, entry-exit from high-capacity parking structures can further disrupt local traffic circulation on narrow neighbourhood roads and add to congestion. Planning and management of on-street and off-street parking will have to be integrated, says CSE analysis.

Implement the current laws that bar parking on footpaths and curbsides that can compromise road safety: CSE review has further shown that already there are legal provisions to protect walkways and strategic parts of roads from parking encroachment.  For instance, Motor Vehicle Act and Rules of road regulation 1989 states that every driver of a motor vehicle parking on any road shall park in such a way that it does not cause or is not likely to cause a danger, obstruction or undue inconvenience to other road-users. A motorist shall not park vehicle – at or near a road crossing; a bend; on a footpath; near a traffic light or a pedestrian crossing; main road carrying fast traffic; near a bus stop, school or hospital entrance or blocking a traffic sign; away from the edge of footpath. Delhi Municipal Corporation Act of 1957 further gives powers of removing illegal encroachments on the public streets. Encroachment is punishable. “These provisions should be enforced without delay,” said Roy Chowdhury.

Parking management needs complete street management: CSE has already demonstrated with its earlier study on Mehrauli Badarpur road in South Delhi that with the reorganization of street activities and redesigning of the road, it is possible to accommodate the needs of all road-users – pedestrians, hawkers, bus stops, parking, etc. can be accommodated without changing the carriageway for motorized traffic. Moreover, with more efficient utilisation of the available right of way (ROW), it was possible to free up as much 1600 sq. meters of land in the study area that can be further developed as a plaza. Such comprehensive street designing and management are needed to curb parking menace.

While recent increase in parking rates is a welcome move, this needs to be market-responsive. Revenue from the increased rates should be spent on improvement of local area and public transport: CSE survey shows that people are willing to consider a shift to other modes only if the minimum parking rates are three times the rate in a multilevel parking. The municipal agency will eventually have to fix parking charges at a rate that will influence commuters’ choice of commuting and duration of parking.

Improve connectivity of the area to give people more choices for travel: There is a need for strategic planning to enhance bus service and metro feeders along with auto services to all neighbourhoods.  Such strategic planning is needed to curtail parking demand.

Pedestrianisation and parking management in key commercial areas can increase business volume: Shop-owners take away most of the legal parking space on road without realising that one parking spot occupied by them throughout the day can be used by at least seven to nine shoppers which would increase business volume. Moreover, pedestrianisation in market areas also increases business volumes as global experiences have shown that pedestrian access to shops increases purchase decisions.  In a city where cars meet about 15 per cent of the travel demand, majority access to the market areas is by other modes. Therefore, a majority of shoppers are public transport users.

Emerging good practices in Indian cities: Several cities in India are implementing a more progressive parking policy.  Kolkata is the only city with residential parking pricing: Personal vehicles pay night charges for on-street parking in a neighbourhood with narrow streets.

Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Mumbai is introducing parking permits to residents as well as area-based monthly rates, charges for night parking on roads by housing society residents.  Hyderabad Metropolitan Authority (HMA) parking is planning a policy to allow the formation of Residential Parking Permit Zones. Under this, it plans to entitle one parking space per residence. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike is introducing new pay and park scheme on 85 roads.  Roads have been classified as premium parking, business parking and ordinary parking zones.  Provision of yearly revision of parking fee is linked to the wholesale price index.  Sikkim and Aizawl and cities of Rajasthan have introduced proof of parking as a mandatory requirement for purchase of a car.

Even globally it has been shown that between Singapore and Hong Kong, that have stringent approaches towards restraining car ownership and usage, Hong Kong has been more successful in restraining car ownership – about 60 cars per 1,000 people in Hong Kong versus 110 cars per 1,000 people in Singapore. Singapore has three times more private car kilometres of travel per person than Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, car parking is much more expensive. 

CSE has called for integrated parking planning for earmarked zones, end to parking subsidies, stringent enforcement and high penalties for violations. 

Parking restraints cannot be delayed in Delhi 

Explosive motorization in Delhi: Delhi already has 8.8 million vehicles and is adding more than 1,400 a day.  Only in one year – between 2013-14 and 2014-15 – vehicle registration has increased 14 per cent. Delhi has more vehicles than Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai put together. At the current level of average, new car registrations in a day Delhi has already added close to 500 cars even as the city celebrates car-free days. The Economic Survey of Delhi 2014-15 has shown that the number of cars has increased 2.7 times in 15 years. This is making an enormous demand for road space and parking space that the city cannot satisfy any more.

Delhi is jammed even at the current level of car ownership: Delhi is gridlocked even when, according to the Delhi Statistical Handbook 2014, only 22 per cent of the households own cars. The city has many more cars per 1,000 people than some of the wealthiest cities in the world that have adopted car restraint policies. Delhi’s 157 cars per 1,000 people do not compare well with Singapore’s 38 cars per 1,000 persons and Hong Kong’s 25. What will happen when as per the slogan of the current government of Delhi, each household will own and use one car, asked CSE.

Car trips will increase to a maximum by 2020. If there is no improvement in public transport ridership, use of personal vehicles will increase. By 2021, car ridership will increase by 106 per cent. Bus ridership will be the slowest to increase at 28 per cent. With loss of bus ridership, per capita emissions and fuel-guzzling will increase and the city will suffer huge pollution, health and fuel costs.

Half of the particulate load from the transport sector in Delhi comes from personal vehicles: Growing dependence on personal vehicles – cars and two-wheelers – further aggravate the pollution problem. The personal vehicles already contribute half of the total particulate load from the transport sector in Delhi. This is getting worse with increase in number of diesel cars and SUVs. Compared to petrol cars particulate and nitrogen oxide, emissions from diesel cars are just double. Bigger diesel SUVs pollute even more. Diesel SUVs emit 80-90 per cent more particulate matter and 60 -90 per cent more nitrogen oxide compared to diesel cars. Increase in diesel use in cars is also increasing lung cancer risk in the city.

More cars will reduce people-carrying capacity of Delhi roads and worsen congestion: Even during peak hours, a car carries only 1.5 persons as opposed to a bus carrying 60 to 70 persons. Two cars occupy the same space as one bus but carry 20 times less people. If this trend continues, the capacity of roads to carry more people will reduce drastically. This is extremely worrying when Delhi will have to move more than 25 million trips a day by 2020. 

Delhi might have the most extensive road network at 22 per cent of its geographical area, but it is saturated and severely choked with vehicles, said CSE analysis. On some of the prominent arterial roads, cars comprise around 50 to 70 per cent of the total traffic – but they carry only 17-20 per cent of the travel trips. As a result, traffic speed has plummeted. A pilot study of Sim Air and IIT Delhi in South Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon and Dwarka had found that cars crawl at 4 kmph for almost 24 minutes in peak two hours and waste 200,000 litre of fuel for one million cars plying daily.

Hidden subsidy for cars must go: A car user pays 9 times less road tax every year than a bus operator. While a bus carries about 1000 passengers every day, a car that occupies almost half of a bus space carries only 1 to 2 passengers. A bus that carries 65 passengers per trip pays Rs 15,000 as road tax every year. But a car that carries 1 to 2 passenger and costs at least Rs 6 lakh pays a pittance for its lifetime – Rs 1600 for 15 years. At the same time, cars enjoy free parking at the residence and most public spaces and a small parking fee in legal parking areas in commercial areas.   But a bus carries 40 times more passengers during peak hours than a car.

Leverage car-free day to implement hard decisions for real change: While a public event like car free day once a month can help build public awareness about the perils of car dependency and the need for car restraint, real change is possible only if this is leveraged immediately to implement the urgent measures of providing alternatives to cars and actively discouraging car usage on a daily basis. Globally, cities are adopting parking policies for restraint, congestion and road pricing, capping of cars, restricting cars in congested and low emissions zones to fight pollution, congestion and energy-guzzling. 


For further information, please contact Vrinda Nagar, CSE Media Resource Centre, at 9654106253/