Parking as a Travel Demand Management Strategy to encourage Public Transport

     

It is evident that with the escalation in population and growth in vehicles, the claim for parking spaces, usually at “no cost” has resulted in high volume of private vehicles on urban roads.

Every Indian city today has already lost a large parcel of its land to parking for its growing number of vehicles. Even so the solution to the issue has always been expanding the parking areas and converting all available spaces into parking lots, to meet the insatiable demand from motorised vehicles. Parking is also eating into our green spaces and walkways which need to be preserved in earnest.

It is believed that cheap and abundant parking is the way to tackle road congestion but on the contrary, it has led to chaos in land use and increasing pollution. While devising a parking policy, no relation between parking supply and mass transit is considered. Parking policy based on “Minimum Parking Requirements” is the practice uniformly followed in every Indian city presently regardless of available transit coverage. This means that a minimum parking arrangement is set as a necessity for all construction purposes, over and above which more parking can be demanded/ arranged for. As opposed to this, a ‘maximum parking requirement’ policy can limit parking effectively. In such circumstances, it is no wonder that the parking index in most of the cities is less than one which means that the supply is much more than the actual demand. Surplus supply of parking spaces at highly subsidised prices is a scenario of every Indian city which is consistent with user demand.

In breach of the National Urban Transport Policy of 2006, the parking charges don’t even reflect the real estate value of the land occupied by parked vehicles. Cheap facilities to private modes has indirectly encouraged personal vehicle use.

As parking plays an important role in deciding the mode of travel, it should be used as a strategy to dissuade auto vehicle use and to boost public transport, walking and cycling.

Parking should be managed with paid parking as the norm – based on the real estate land value and monitored with intelligent devices like smart meters, pay by phone, scan cars etc. coupled with heavy fines for illegally parked vehicles. It is time our authorities devise a parking policy based on appropriate pricing, management and enforcement to tackle the growing chaos in our urban cities.

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Availability of free parking at the work place or commercial areas are an invisible hand encouraging vehicle ownership due to its very nature of reducing the average generalised cost of travel for private motor vehicle users (Donald Shoup, 1997).

Parking restrictions are considered as the second best strategy to increase the modal shift towards more sustainable modes (Calthrop et al. 2000).

 

Tanya Mittal has completed her Bachelors degree in Urban Planning from School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal. The following article is in line with her final year thesis on Parking as a Travel Demand Management Strategy to induce Public Transport, a case of Pune under the guidance of Paulose N. Kuriakose (Transport Professor, SPA). Her thesis was awarded as the Best Thesis 2015 at ITPI MP Regional Chapter. She has been associated with Parisar as an intern during her second year of the course.