How can we make public parking spaces effective and sustainable?

 

“The solutions of today sometimes become problems of tomorrow.”

The above statement has been true for humans since a lot of years. Development has always brought with itself a new set of challenges. Be it the ozone gases, pollution, radiation etc. Cars, which were, at one point of time, a breakthrough in travel technology, has now become a major contributor to air pollution, noise pollution and has led to congestion on our roads.

Over the last couple of decades, it has become easier and easier to buy cars but become more and more difficult to find space to park all the cars. Public places which are not designed keeping in mind parking for cars are now seeing parked cars spill over to the main roads.

Ahmedabad has very few paid parking spots. Most of Ahmedabad parks wherever it wants. I am sure enthropologist would love to study how citizens of Ahmedabad (mis)behave on the roads.

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation opened the city’s first ever multi level car parking near Kankaria Lake. It was build at the cost of 25 Crore Rupees. That’s a lot of money. There is no way government is going to be able to recover all this money quickly if it sticks to just parking fees.

If you look at the number of vehicles parked in the Kankaria Parking everyday, you will realize how it is far from achieving its intended purpose. There are cars parked outside the parking space on the side of the main road. It is the same situation on all the roads even in a 500 meter radius around the parking. It means that neither is it being effective nor is it generating enough revenue to cover its maintenance cost. This is the situation for a lot of public parking spaces in the city.

Citizens sometimes need a little nudge to do the right thing. Behavior change requires incentives or nudges. It is not easy and there is no silver bullet to this issue.

 

The question is:

What can the government do to make public parking spaces more effective and sustainable?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Rent out some space to car cleaning services – Car cleaning is an important service that can be provided at parking spaces. It is a win win for everyone. Citizens get their car cleaned while it is parked, car cleaning services get customers who come to them and the government gets both parking fees from the citizens and rent from the car cleaning services.
  • Tow trucks enforce no parking around the parking space – Every parking space will have three to four tow trucks which will cover a couple of square kilometers around the parking space and make sure that no vehicles are illegally parked. It will ensure that illegally parked vehicles are fined which will ensure that they use the available parking space. It will cover the cost of the tow trucks and then create a small direct stream of revenue for the traffic department. The parking space can be used to store the towed vehicles and parking fee can be added to the fine when they citizen comes to collect their vehicle.
  • Advertisements – Parking spaces can auction their walls to advertisers who would want to target car/vehicle owners. Tyre companies, oil companies, car companies, insurance companies, companies selling vehicle cleaning stuff etc can be approached to advertise at these spaces.
  • Car charging spots – Electric cars are going to slowly become popular and parking spaces can have dedicated ‘charging spots’ for cars. It would help people who have electric cars charge their cars while they are parked saving them some time. Electric cars have a problem with mileage right now and this could potentially help with that as well.
  • Loyalty incentives – In order to encourage people to use the parking frequently, loyalty cards can be introduced. It can have offers like – if you use the car park for seven days, you get to park for one day for free or a low cost monthly pass for people who want to use the parking everyday or complimentary car wash when you use the parking for a certain number of days. The possibilities are endless and can be designed based on the location of the parking.

Would these suggestions solve the problem? Maybe. Would it improve the situation? Definitely.

 

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