An Infographic Blog
Conceptualised and Designed by Kawin Kumaran
Content created by Nashwa Naushad, AV Venugopal
Photographs by TD Achuthan
An Infographic Blog
Conceptualised and Designed by Kawin Kumaran
Content created by Nashwa Naushad, AV Venugopal
Photographs by TD Achuthan
The first two days of September saw two big changes to make India’s streets safer, freer and less congested. The new Motor Vehicles rules came into force on the first of September, attempting the impossible, controlling the behaviour of Indian motorists on the streets. Through heavier penalties, the rules seek to reduce violations. On September 2, the Supreme Court released a judgment on the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules 2019, under the umbrella of the MC Mehta case. This judgment can be seen as a landmark not just for improving parking management in our cities, but also for other steps towards reclaiming spaces for pedestrians.
Our cities are known for their chaotic streets. Pedestrians and cyclists competing with other vehicles for space on the streets is a common sight. This is further exacerbated by the ever increasing need for parking space for all these vehicles, mostly on the street or on footpaths, blocking the movement of traffic and pedestrians. The Supreme Court judgment begins with an admonishment of the state for its failure to provide adequate public transport, and mismanaging the consequences of that failure, the increasing number of private vehicles that have taken over our streets.
The judgment has taken some progressive first steps, emphasising some important aspects such as the need for footpaths in all residential areas to be cleared of encroachments to make it usable for pedestrians, and the significance of modern technology in ensuring efficient utilisation of parking spaces. It also raises the possibility of charging people for parking, though leaving that decision to the state.
However, there are some aspects of the judgment that need more scrutiny. The judgment also called on city planners and architects to provide adequate off-street parking at major demand hubs – commercial and institutional areas, transportation hubs, etc – accommodating the potential demand for the next 25 years. The order touches multiple times on creating off street parking spaces to cater to parking demand. This can be effective only post an effective on street demand based priced PM system.
Multilevel car parking (MLCP) complexes are one such solution to provide off-street parking. It is a popular myth that high parking demand can be addressed by building MLCP complexes. However, examples from India and around the world clearly indicate that it is a short-sighted attempt. In India, these MLCPs are built at great public cost and remain underutilised and vacant in many cases. Most often, the high demand is an apparent local demand, centred around one or two streets with higher levels of activity (commercial for example), while the other streets in the neighbourhood are relatively free of vehicular parking. This demand could be eased by zone-based on-street parking management, so that parking supply is distributed evenly across different streets in the neighbourhood. Hence, detailed studies are required before proposing new MLCPs.
Another way to provide off-street parking are requirements that already exist in the Development Control Regulations(DCR) set by local development authorities, but are not adhered to in many cases. That might not be such a bad thing.
These requirements are referred to as parking minimums. They are laws that require property developers to include a fixed number of off-street parking spaces according to the size of a building. The reasoning for this is that without enough off-street parking, efficient traffic flow can be compromised due to vehicles cruising for parking or parking on the street. These parking minimums can be extremely problematic in practice.
The hidden costs of parking
Global experts on parking such as Donald Shoup and Paul Barter point out that providing for parking minimums has a cost. By forcing developers to build huge amounts of parking, these rules increase traffic and harm the environment by encouraging more people to drive. They also lead to inefficient land use. Planners and architects tend to overestimate the demand, providing more off-street parking than necessary, leading to wastage of space. The increased cost of development are then passed on to buyers, even those who may not own vehicles.
At the same time, there is a reluctance to engage with managing on-street parking demand. This leads to a situation where we see the extremes of large, empty parking lots and streets choked with parked vehicles. As a society, we should think about the sense in using up valuable space to prioritise private vehicle parking demand for the next twenty-five years.
Cities around the world have moved away from the concept of parking minimums, realising that they result in a wastage of both public and private land and investments. Mexico City has now converted their parking minimums into a parking maximum. This would change the high levels of mandated parking into the maximum allowed amount of parking, allowing developers to provide lower amounts of parking. Parking maximums are more effective because they ensure that excessive parking is not created based on norms, and developers can choose to provide less parking according to market demand. Any parking above 50 percent of the maximum would be charged and the revenues from this fee would be used to improve public transport and subsidise housing.
Across our cities, free parking is viewed as a right by motorists, leading to a reluctance by city authorities and private developers to charge the full cost of parking onto motorists. It is strange that most people are outraged at having to pay for parking, while showing no surprise on hearing the cost of property in commercial and residential areas. Why should the cost of land for parking not be the same as commercial or residential rental value in a locality? Charging people for parking would discourage personal motor vehicle use, shift to alternative modes and ensure that they pay for the valuable public space they use up for parking.
As the judgment rightly observed, a primary cause for our current situation has been the failure of our governments to provide adequate good quality public transport. While enforcing the new Motor Vehicles act and creating efficient parking management systems are much needed steps, they will fail to achieve their goals without the support of an efficient public transportation system and last mile connectivity.
The judgment is a great start to a national level discussion on parking. Delhi has notified the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules 2019 which aims to dramatically change parking in Delhi. The policy contains provisions to formulate hundreds of area-specific parking plans which will be developed in an exhaustive exercise over the next four months. Bengaluru and Hyderabad have also attempted to implement parking policies. Cities like Shimla and Gangtok have already created and approved city-wide parking policies. Chennai is also on the way to implementing a parking management system across the city.
Efficient parking management can be an effective way to ensure better streets and cities. Removing parking minimums and charging people for parking are important and necessary steps that can help cities to effectively manage the demand for parking. The judgment is a good starting point and Indian cities have already started taking the first steps towards this future.
Written by Keshav Suryanarayanan
Technical Direction: Vishnu Mohanakumar, AV Venugopal, Aswathy Dilip
Mumbai wears many tags: The City that Never Sleeps, The City of Dreams, The Maximum City, etc. Another moniker that aptly defines the conditions prevalent in the city could be ‘The City of Traffic Bedlam’. Such is the chaos that reigns supreme on the city’s pigeonholed roads, with private motor vehicles playing the usual suspects.
In light of the ever-rising transportation concerns, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA)—the agency responsible for urban planning in the Mumbai region—is keen to explore the feasibility of congestion pricing to reduce traffic congestion. A stakeholder focus-group meeting was held on 6 March, to understand various perspectives of congestion pricing, as part of a joint study initiated by MMRDA in collaboration with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) India Programme.
A travel-demand management measure, congestion pricing aims to tackle the issue of road congestion, growing private vehicle use, and environmental pollution. Simply put, the approach will look to levy a charge on private vehicles for accessing a high-demand stretch or zone. These charges are aimed at discouraging usage of private vehicles, while improving and promoting public transport ridership.
Mumbai has been renowned for its strong network of public transport systems such as the omnipresent BEST buses and the reliable ‘local trains’. But as middle-class ambitions grew, so did the car-craze. In the recent decade, private automobiles found safe sanctuaries in the homes and streets of Mumbai. Meanwhile, the BEST bus services continue to suffer due to declining fleet sizes and ridership; while the local trains, the city’s backbone, are bursting at the seams with unimaginable passenger load.
Greater Mumbai’s extravagant private vehicle growth and expenditure on related infrastructure cannot justify the paltry commute figures. Private vehicle numbers skyrocketed from 7.9 lakh in 2001 to 32 lakh in 2017! Even though they make up for only 12% of all trips, private vehicles occupy over three-fourth of road space, leaving the rest to the fringes. What happens when the 12% increases to 20% or even more? Constructing more roads or flyovers is not the answer – these are short sighted solutions that are expensive and unsustainable.
As per Uber Movement estimates, the average Mumbaikar spends 135% per cent more time on the road than their Asian counterparts. Thus, the move to congestion pricing is not about punishing the driver; it is more about ensuring people get to their destination faster and more affordably—with less environmental impact and less stress.
According to the MMRDA, congestion pricing will encourage a modal shift to public transport modes which is a healthy alternative for people and the environment. It is also understood that an effective congestion pricing strategy will increase average speed and reduce travel times by all modes, especially buses.
However, congestion pricing is a mere part of the bigger puzzle that looks to resolve traffic congestion in cities like Mumbai. “Mumbai should first try more simple traffic reduction measures like charging on-street parking and eliminating on-street parking from mobility corridors. That is slowing down buses. The buses run only about 160 km/day today, against 200 km just a few years ago. Buses have to run 200 km/day to be viable” says Harshad Abhyankar, Mobility Planning Specialist at the ITDP India Programme.
Presently, BEST buses share the carriageway with other vehicles and hence, their operating speed is adversely affected by traffic congestion. Haphazard parking increases friction on the street edge which further slows them down. Lower bus speeds generally result in fewer buses scheduled on routes, which only entices commuters to opt for the more ‘convenient’ option – their car or the two-wheeler. And this vicious cycle continues.
The move towards congestion pricing will allow Mumbai to explore the possibility of firstly, charging on-street parking to discourage the use of private vehicles, secondly, prioritising and strengthening the lifeline of the city – its BEST buses, and thirdly, investing in high-quality people-friendly infrastructure such as footpaths, cycle tracks, and dedicated bus lanes. For all of this to be successful, “a legislation that gives charge of all traffic reduction measures and related responsibilities to a single entity is desirable”, emphasised a participant at the focus group discussion.
No one enjoys being stuck in traffic. People stuck in traffic jams lose time, money, and their peace of mind. Congestion pricing is a measure to reduce traffic congestion – that is charging private vehicles for accessing a high-demand stretch or zone. The revenue generated can be levied to improve city bus services, and walking and cycling infrastructure – the more sustainable way of moving around. However, its application is an uphill task. The ITDP India Programme is excited to be working with MMRDA to learn from this initial meeting, further its understanding from international case studies, and explore possibilities of congestion pricing in Mumbai.
Move over traffic, Mumbaikars coming through (about time)!
Written by Rohit James and Kashmira Dubash.
Picture credit: Vincent Mivelaz, Flickr
The path to urban development is laid with good intentions but the one paved for sustainable development is full of good work.
A take on the age-old proverb, this is exactly the ethos that the ITDP India Programme has persevered for, while mobilising the landscape of India’s transport system. This effort, to infuse the principles of equality and sustainability to the core of urban mobility, was taken up a notch in 2018.
The year marked the India Programme’s two decades of catalysing change in over a third of urban India. In this pursuit, of creating better streets, better cities, and better lives, the ITDP India Programme registered some major wins and here are some of the notable achievements in 2018:
The path to reimagine Indian cities from the perspective of equitability, livability, and sustainability is full of good work and ITDP India Programme is all set for the long haul.
In the 1970s when Joni Mitchell crooned “Big Yellow Taxi”, not many realised the clairvoyance and the forewarning that the song’s lyrics expressed. Though every bit of the lyric has its own essence and social messaging, the starting couplet is resounding. The verse—“They paved paradise, And put up a parking lot”—held a mirror up to society, and here we are four decades later, perplexed and baffled as to how we got here.
Automobiles are the scourge that drive up emission levels and other environmental issues, yet their numbers continue to rise unabashed. As per a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (Delhi), it took India 60 years (1951-2008) to cross the mark of 105 million registered vehicles. The same number of vehicles were added in a mere six years (2009 – 2015) thereafter!
But when you throw ill-conceived parking systems into this mix, it is like taking gasoline to a firefight. The backlash of this self-inflicted problem is found in every nook and corner of our cities, in all sorts of positions (angular, parallel, perpendicular) and scales (on-street, multi-level, automated).
In India, the conversation surrounding parking management is kindled every now and then, only to be impounded with plans of creating more parking spaces. Or even worse, buried six-foot deep with a parking lot as a symbolical headstone. Irony at its best.
So, why is it that dialogues on parking and its management generate public ire, whereas implausible measures—such as unchecked on-street free parking and multi-level parking—venerated. The answer lies in the psyche of vehicle owners and commuters in general, who lay fodder to a whole bunch of myths regarding parking management.
Now, what are these myths and how do the arguments hold; well, not as solid as the ground their vehicles are parked on.
Let’s deduce this argument with the adage, “Your liberty to swing your fist ends just where my nose begins”. A citizen has the liberty to own a vehicle, but it doesn’t entitle them to occupy a public space of their fancy. Furthermore, no text, context, and subtext of a right allows for the infringement of someone else’s right. Whereas, parking poses as an obstruction for someone to use that common public space from walking or cycling.
Clearly, parking is not a right or an entitlement, but a privilege which needs to be charged and heavily at that. A parking fee must be charged proportional to demand, factoring in criteria such as location, time of day, duration of parking, and category of vehicle (defined by size and type).
Take the case of Ranchi, where a pilot parking management project on the arterial MG Road stretch led to a 12-fold increase in parking revenue. Even the state of Jharkhand, spurred by the revenue spike at Ranchi’s pilot parking management project, invested efforts to regulate parking as a statewide policy. According to reports, Greater Chennai Corporation stands to gain Rs 55 crore per year in revenue from the pricing of about 12,000 ECS (equivalent car spaces) of parking in Chennai: a whopping 110 times increase in revenue from what it presently earns.
Cities can innovatively use parking revenue to encourage sustainable modes of transport. For example, Bicing—the public cycle-sharing program in Barcelona—is financed by its parking revenue. London’s Freedom Pass, which allows elderly (60+) and disabled residents to use public transport for free, is funded by the parking fees collected in many boroughs. You can find more about these cases and other best practices in ITDP’s publication, Europe’s Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation.
As per Dalia Research, the average global commute time per workday is 1 hour 9 minutes, India’s commute estimate hovers around 1 hour 31 minutes. That figure helps us to the third spot in the global list, behind only Israel and the UAE. So does the solution of offering more parking space offer a concession on congestion, the answer is and has always been in the negative.
An analogy often used while talking about urban commute is “Travel time was so much lesser when there were lesser vehicle!”. Hence, parking is to private vehicles, what flame is to moths. More parking only begets more private vehicles to hit the road.
An excessive supply of parking will only encourage people to use personal motor vehicles—even when good public transport is available. Cities, therefore, need to limit total parking supply, including off-street and on-street parking. Based on the capacity of the road network, cities must set caps on the total quantum of parking available in each zone.
Most cities invest in developing multi-level car parks to resolve parking woes. But examples, from across the world and India, clearly indicate that it is a myopic attempt. Over time such infrastructures only turn into ‘big white elephants’.
Take the example of Bengaluru’s 11 multi-storeyed parking complexes—Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Company (BMTC) owns nine and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) owns two. According to a Bangalore Mirror report, these “ghost storey” parking lots barely have 20-30% occupancy, reason being parking on roads or pavements is easier, since it is free and the safer.
“Multi-level car parking doesn’t solve parking woes, better on-street management does. Multi-level parking structures remain empty while people continue to park on the streets as long as it remains free and unenforced,” said Shreya Gadepalli, ITDP India Programme Lead. Thus, cities must manage and enforce on-street parking effectively before building any off-street parking facilities, public, or private.
In 2009, Janette Sadik-Khan, the then transportation commissioner of New York City, envisioned Times Square to be a car-free zone. That is, the hub would be less of a conduit for vehicles and an urban space where people could freely walk, sightsee, dine, and take in the magnanimity that is New York. Though there were initial reservations, the results were quite remarkable and by 2010 the changes were made permanent. Citylab reported that “business for merchants in the area was booming, and travel times for cars actually went down”.
There are plenty of such examples be it Hong Kong—where demand for commercial establishments rose post pedestrianisation, Copenhagen—a pilot pedestrian project from 1962 has since reclaimed 100,000 sq.m of motorised transit. Here in India, the Mall Road in Shimla, Temple Street in Madurai, and Heritage Street in Amritsar are examples of how reinventing urban design to focus on pedestrianisation does not affect commercial establishment as feared.
People over parking: regulations allows better streets, better cities, better lives
In conclusion, the need of the hour is to regulate parking, not to take it off the table. Policies which focus on parking management not only help in easing congestion, emissions, and travel time, but also are a feasible revenue generation model for a city. A robust management system clearly defines parking zones, pegs user fee to demand, and uses an IT-based mechanism for information, payment, and enforcement—discussed at length in ITDP’s Parking Basics.
The conversation revolving around parking management has been catching up, with ITDP India Programme offering plausible solutions to cities. Leading the conversation is Pune, which is on the verge of implementing a parking management policy—a demand-based parking system that smoothens traffic movement.
Multiple studies allude that personal cars and two-wheelers occupy most of our street space, yet serve less than a fourth of all trips. They also sit idle for 95 per cent of the time—consuming over a third of street space that could be used more effectively as footpaths, cycle tracks, and bus rapid transit (BRT). The discourse over urban mobility shouldn’t revolve around parking, rather the onus must be on transit-oriented development. Wherein, last-mile connectivity and rapid system of transit ensure movement of people and not just vehicles. As cities evolve, there is an urgent need to step away from an oblivious “man proposes and parking disposes” mentality.
More resources from ITDP on parking management and reforms:
“Congratulations to Pune on taking this important step! If the going gets tough, always remember WHY the streets need parking management. The fees, the enforcement and the well-designed parking spaces are needed to make sure that parking happens in an orderly way, only in the right places and that it is almost never too full (so newcomers can find a space to park).” Dr. Paul Barter, Urban transport researcher, policy advisor and trainer.
The renowned parking policy expert’s words ring true: making streets inclusive and people-friendly is one of the biggest challenges cities face today, and a key part of the puzzle lies in a system we mistakenly take for granted: parking. In a laudable move, Pune Metropolitan Corporation (also known as PMC) has approved a public parking policy that aims to manage on-street parking through an efficient paid parking system. Ultimately, it will shift people from private vehicles toward sustainable modes such as walking, cycling and using public transport.
PMC heralds a new era of travel demand management by regulating on-street parking. ITDP provided technical expertise to draft the Policy. The Policy introduces an efficient paid parking system, an intelligent transportation system that facilitates payment, and the creation of a management cell that oversees implementation. The outcome – a demand-based parking system that smoothens traffic movement – is avant-garde in India.
DP Road, Aundh is an example of street design that includes clear parking spots
It’s widely known that private vehicles are voracious consumers of space because they require a parking spot at each leg of a journey- at home, at the market, and at the office. Streets are crowded with parked vehicles that block traffic and turn walkways into obstacle courses for pedestrians. A parking policy is needed to ensure that the frustration and hassle of parking is addressed sustainably and efficiently.
The policy proposes to regulate on-street parking by clearly demarcating legal and restricted parking spaces, in accordance to Pune’s Urban Street Design Guidelines. The street design guide, which was adopted by the city in 2016, sets standards for designing street elements and provides a collection of street design templates catering to the needs of all road users.
The policy proposes clearly demarcating legal and restricted parking spaces
According to the policy, parking rates will be determined across the city for both on-street and off-street parking, depending on location, time and type of vehicles. Pune’s parking policy has determined parking fees based on vehicle dimensions, parking demand at particular locations, time (peak or off-peak hours), and occupancy to enable a fair fee structure. Revenue from parking fees can help fund further improvement in public transport and parking management.
The Policy aims to be proactive in ensuring that parking information is available to commuters through various means (such as real time digital displays, smartphone apps etc.) to reduce redundant trips for hunting parking spaces. In a move to promote cycling as an affordable and sustainable mode of transport, the policy exempts bicycle parking from any charge. Exemptions are also extended to daytime ambulances, special-aid vehicles and paratransit parked in designated lots.
Once implemented, the policy promises efficiency to travel demand management in the city. As a significant step towards holistic and sustainable urban transport planning, parking management can help Pune become a ‘world-class’ city!