Roads are the lifeline of Indian cities.Just like arteries carry the blood in body and help in its healthy running ,similarly roads carry the people and goods of the city for the healthy functioning of city.Now imagine if arteries get clogged, what will happen.The menace of parking on the roads is just like a small clot that is disturbing the flow of the city.The result will be pressure on the remaining part of the road.The same pressure is today visible in Indian cities which are slowly but surely getting clogged and congested making themselves unhealthy and unsustainable.It is leading to a great wastage of energy and time of our society.Also, such a congestion is equally responsible for rise of pollution levels in Indian cities.
The phenomenon of traffic congestion is not limited to metropolitan cities alone but is quite visible in tier-2 and tier-3 cities as well.Within a city also, there are certain areas which are especially prone to the problem of traffic jams leading to huge burning of fossil fuels along with great wastage of time.Such areas are mainly the old market areas, tourist areas , railway stations , bus stands or other main centres of trade in the city.The lack of sufficient parking space is one of the major reasons for such a poor condition of traffic in our cities.
While it is true that India is trying to de-congest its cities through creation of good public transportation.However, there is a limitation to what public transportation can do in Indian cities because individual vehicles still offer seamless source to destination transportation in India which public transportation is yet to offer.Thus, it is important to find alternate solutions to solve the problem of city congestion other than investing in public transportation.One of the most underutilized options is that of multi-level car parking systems.A multi-level car parking system can create 6 times to 7 times of current parking space which the areas of congestion have.For example, New Delhi station capacity of vehicle parking can go from hundred(hypothetically) vehicles to seven hundred in one stroke.And let us accept the fact that the traffic congestion just outside any railway station or bus stand is mainly because of vehicles parked on the roads and not because roads are insufficiently wide to carry traffic.
There are limits to the widening of roads and roads are for moving vehicles.The vehicles not in motion are safe and rightly placed in the parking lot.However, for this to happen the government needs to encourage creation of multilevel parking lots in the areas which are prone to congestion.It may be a better idea than having a sin tax or a congestion tax as it solves the problem to a great extent along with increasing the economic activity.On the other hand, taxation is likely to hurt economic activity as well as spread discontent because we still don’t have a very robust public transportation and thus, it may not be right to classify individual vehicle as a luxury.It is a choice not because it is cheap but because it is much more convenient than public transport.
Also , the multilevel parking fits rightly into the government mission of encouraging the electric vehicles in order to reduce the pollution levels in Indian cities and make them more sustainable.A multi-level parking system can easily offer electric charging points and that too at a cost which may further encourage people to use electric vehicles.Thus , the creation of infrastructure for electric mobility should keep multilevel parking structures at the heart of its broader plan.It makes our cities clean by physically de-congesting them as well as promoting cleaner means of transportation.
The financing of multi-level parking is not a constraint anymore.The private sector has enough money to fund such structures and easily a public private partnership mode can be used to promote such structures.The multilevel parking has lot of revenue streams available to it like revenues from parking, electric charging and advertising which makes them feasible as well as profitable affair.Thus, the financial and social environment is ripe for encouraging investment into parking systems.
Lastly, Indians are still learning to pay for parking.Especially, the shopkeepers who are inside the market areas will not like to pay for parking of their own vehicles or their customers’ and thus, may still park the vehicles on the road.For this, the only way is to use a carrot and stick approach of providing incentives to the surrounding community to park their and their customers’ vehicles in the parking systems along with heavy penalizing of parking on roads in the areas which have parking systems.Slowly but surely people will start getting habituated to new way of parking once they see the advantage of it.