Multi-level parking lots, as they are being built today, will not solve Delhi’s parking problems, Centre for Science and Environment expert Anumita Roychowdhury tells Darpan Singh. Excerpts from an interview.
There is never enough parking space. What has gone wrong?
The approach has been wrong. You cannot keep supplying parking spaces. The demand is insatiable. You need to stop somewhere. Free and under-priced parking induce more traffic. Through pricing, we can lower car usage.
Will pricing alone help?
We need a parking policy that includes priced parking, enforcement of legal parking, limit on parking space in areas that have good access and public transport connectivity to reduce car usage. Land used for parking can be used to improve public and non-motorised transport, which will also bring down car use.
Multi-level lots were supposed to cure all the ills...
Such off-street facilities further encourage car usage. Studies have shown they don’t curtail on-street spill-over. An assessment of the multi-level car parks in Delhi show that parking charges should be as high as Rs 40-Rs 60 per hour to recover their capital and operational costs. But the actual rates are as low as Rs 10 per hour. This is an unacceptable subsidy for luxury consumption and use of valuable public space with high rental value.
Should the idea be abandoned?
If multi-level car parks are made at all, then they should be integrated and planned as part of overall parking management of a zone. Both the multi-level car park and the surface area parking should have integrated management to reduce pressure on roads and the surface.
Multi-level car parks should not be made in isolation but only if the larger parking plan of the zone needs it selectively. Use multi-level parking for multi-modal integration in far-off metro stations: Parking can be creatively deployed for multi-modal integration of buses, cycling and walking.
What can be the immediate solutions?
We must manage on-road and off-road parking to reduce traffic chaos. Prevent illegal parking. Demarcate legal parking areas on street or surface to improve enforcement. Strict penalty for violation of parking rules, illegal parking and walkway encroachment are important. Use revenue from parking for public transport betterment.