Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Parking in Kochi


Parking has been a major concern for all countries, states, local authorities and traffic police across the world. Parking has now been taken as a part of the larger traffic and transport development by the entities concerned with city development. Since the effects of parking has direct relation to traffic movement and at the same time car sales are considered as a measure of urban development.

Parking has been given minimal importance in the various city plans in India. Though the National Urban Transport Policy 2006 mentions about the need to integrate parking into city development plans (CDP), very few states have taken the lead. Fortunately Kerala has been one of the states which have framed a policy under the directions of Ministry of Urban Transport as per the JNNURM scheme. The Kerala Parking policy is a noteworthy attempt inspite of the fact that it does not contain a clear strategy to implement parking management methods. In fact Mizoram and Sikkim has come out with a policy to regulate parking by heavily restricting car ownership, following the Japan model of Proof of Parking. A Sikkimese needs to show that he has parking space while buying a car, was a clear indication of the hill state to decrease the proliferation of private cars. While such policies may not be replicated in other states, there is an urgent need to relook the strategy of the state towards parking keeping mind the huge growth of private cars. Building flyovers and roads would not facilitate the huge growth of private vehicles, let alone providing huge parking spaces (multilayer or otherwise).

There has been no data to calculate the number of parking spaces required to facilitate the 9,38,124 vehicles been registered in Kakkanad RTO office alone as on 2010. Even if we see that less than 5 percent of the total registered vehicles travel through the city a point of time. The parking demand is still very huge compared to its supply. The question here is whether we need to provide more parking spaces or provide regulations for parking or car ownership to restrict private cars into the city. Restrictions in parking or car ownership will require a better public transport system and a seamless traffic management system. This is however a long term process demanding time and money. New York and Hong Kong have excessively priced parking topping the list of the most expensive list to park your vehicle at monthly rates of $933 (Rs 42,237) and $ 745 (Rs 33,726) respectively as per Global Colliers International Parking Rate Survey 2010. While India states of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai figures among the lowest in the world with $1.28 (Rs 58), $1.07 (Rs 48.4) and $ 0.96 (Rs 43.42) respectively. Parking rates are often fixed excessively to discourage people to use private vehicles and often act as an incentive to use public transport.

Interestingly if we go by the National Urban Transport Policy, which mentions that parking rates shall be calculated according to the land value and land use pattern. Then it would be interesting to note what the parking rates in places like Marine Drive, Kaloor or South Junction would be.

The need of the hour is to devise parking management strategies aligned to the growth of traffic and the necessity of balancing growth in terms of car use, space and public transport. Kochi which has already found its place in the urban map through its projects like Vallarpadam Transhipment Terminal, Metro, Smart City etc will need to systematically plan its growth through traffic and parking management strategies. The common perception that providing parking space is the duty of the state and extends to right of the citizens to demand marking is skewed. This can be correlated to the predicament of asking the state to give a room to keep ones Air Conditioner!! Making parking costly and encouraging people to use public transport is the model which needs to be followed. At the same time, there is a need to clearly demarcate parking spaces and provide parking options through multilayer parking facilities or other models at a PPP basis. Parking structures shall be developed as a revenue generating model for the Corporation by renting out parking spaces and attracting investment. Other strategies which have been followed to restrict parking is making car ownership very costly by increasing taxes like in Netherlands, where the car cost is less than the total taxes spend for buying a car. Kochi and Kerala need to move ahead of other states by taking the lead through such policy interventions intend to ease city development.

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