“Parking is a nuisance in the Delhi region. There are times when a small parking issue reaches the cops,” says Yogendra Mangla, resident of Delhi-NCR.
Parking is one of the major concerns of the citizens, whether it is a commercial or residential area, especially in metropolitan cities. According to Delhi's economic survey, there has been about a 50% increase in the number of vehicles since the last decade as 7.5 lakh cars are registered every year. In 2019, the Supreme court had termed parking as one of the most serious problems of the national capital.
“A month back, I went to the DLF mall on the weekend. When I got there, the guards guided me to the basement parking lot. When I reached the basement, they immediately guided me to the multi-level parking that is very far from the mall,” Neerja Mangla said, a resident of Noida.
The 8-storey multi-level parking in Sector-18, Noida with a capacity of 3,000 vehicles has failed to attract commuters as it is constructed far away from the main market. It has a flawed structure and even the parking charges are not reasonable for people to consider the facility.
“It was over 2 km away from the mall. I was supposed to walk all the way there. The multi-level parking seemed isolated and unsafe so I went back home without visiting the mall. It has never happened with me and I realized that even the mall did not anticipate the expected number of vehicles on the weekends,” she added.
In Yamuna Vihar, there are many banks and hospitals along with residential houses. Often cars are parked outside the house gates making it impossible for us to reach our parking inside the gates. I have to go to every bank, hospital and banquet to announce the car number so that they can move their vehicles. I had to once call 100 to get the car towed and the car owner later came to my house yelling at me. It was a clear nuisance, said Gaurav Goel, a resident of East Delhi. More than 250 phone calls are made to the Delhi police daily regarding brawls over parking as per the Economic survey of Delhi, 2018-2019.
“The problem is the ownership of private vehicles leading to parking demands,” said Arunav Dasgupta, HOD of Urban Design, SPA, New Delhi. He states that parking should be made as difficult as it can be and efforts should be made towards improving efficiency and comfort of the public transport.
In foreign cities like London, the parking charges are so high that people are discouraged to use private vehicles. For instance, In Westminster, parking fares are as high as £15 per hour, i.e. Rs 1,500 per hour, that the London metros and buses are heavily used for transportation. “It is important to reduce the supply to control the demand for parking,” said Dasgupta. If parking is made as costly in India, people will have no option but to use public transport.
The Institute of Transportation of Development Policy, a New York-based NGO, stated that to reduce the number of private cars, improvements are required in public transport and better traffic management. They believe that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), a bus-based system, as in several parts of the country, will be effective for passengers as it is cheaper and faster. This system will decrease the congestion on roads and will improve the quality of the urban environment.
On the other hand, Tanmay Saxena, owner of a town planning firm in New Delhi said that Multi-level parking is an effective solution, provided it has a covered pedestrian walk. “These facilities are often constructed far away from the commercial or market place and are not ideal as people prefer to park near the shops,'' he added.
“Stack or mechanical parking is also a good option. It should be mechanically operated and cost effective,” said Saxena. They also save space on the streets and residences. In many new residential complexes, the contractors are providing multi-level parking, resulting in systematic management of vehicles.
In Kamala Nagar, the authorities have installed the first ever underground mechanical parking with a capacity of over 1000 cars at reasonable rates to effectively control the volume of incoming vehicles. Almost five years ago, the same region would witness overflowing with cars and crawling traffic as the customers and shopkeepers would park their cars in front of the shops on the roads.
Although cities like Indore and Ahmedabad are constantly moving towards traffic control systems, the national capital of Delhi is yet to explore the sector. Instead of parking in an inappropriate space and paying for a car tow, people of Delhi-NCR would prefer to pay for parking charges.