The parking nightmare

The number of vehicles is burgeoning by the day. But the Bangalorean virtually goes around endlessly in search of parking space

The parking nightmare

The arithmetic is starkly simple. When you add a thousand new vehicles daily, you can’t expect a city of one crore Bangaloreans to create parking space automatically. That would indeed be a ridiculous equation, more so in a City where there is absolutely no paid parking policy, no scope whatsoever to widen roads, and yes, no solution in sight to stop those ceaseless vehicle registrations.

It is a mindboggling traffic chaos out there. Slow-moving car drivers endlessly searching for a parking lot, motorcyclists carving out a wedge to squeeze their bikes in, haphazardly parked school vans… If finding a place to tuck away your car on MG Road, Brigade Road or St Mark’s Road is insanely tough, it is equally a hard task in many areas of Core Bangalore.   

Today, the roads are so badly congested that even desperate measures might only have limited effect. One such step being talked about is a very steep parking fee, high enough to potentially dissuade people from taking their cars and bikes into the city’s core.

Indications are that the fee will be as high as it is Manhattan area of New York City.  
 
The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had for years sat on a proposal for an implementable, workable pay-and-park policy for the city. It was apparently put on the backburner due to strong political resistance. However, there is now some signs that the proposal will get a new injection of life.  

Approved by the Palike’s Council last year, the parking policy has some unique suggestions. Fixing parking fee based on the land value of the area is one such. the Palike has also suggested using the propertay tax zoning system to fixing the parking rates.

It is learnt that the proposal was sent to the State government and its approval obtained. Now, the BBMP has to fix rates on the basis of location and number of hours parked. Prohibitive costs might keep away motorists in the middle and lower income groups. But those spending lakhs of rupees on high-end cars are likely to take such costs in their stride. There lies the catch!

Sources say the guidelines and byelaws for the paid parking system have been framed by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT). It emerges that the rule will first come into effect in the Central Business District (CBD) of the City. If successful, BBMP will extend the services to other areas. But that would be only by the end of this year, as a senior Palike official puts it.

Free for all

Eight years back, the Palike had done away with paid parking, effectively making it free for all. Unauthorised parking attendants soon took over. While the promise of a streamlined system was always in the air, it never materialised. Instead, the Palike came up with the idea of multi-level parking facilities. Ten were promised. Eventually, the city got 12, ten of them thanks to the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC)’s TTMC centres. But the use of these facilities is not maximised. Barring the parking lots in Jayanagar, Shantinagar and Yeshwantpur TTMCs, the others are grossly under-utilised.

Stepping up security in these parking lots did not help much either. Awareness is low. For instance, not many know that adequate car parking facilities are available right atop the Shivajinagar BMTC bus stand. Zafar Pasha, a car driver, feels the TTMCs should have been located closer to commercial areas. Parking the car and walking a long distance to a shopping complex does not make sense, he notes. 

This apparent resistance to walk that extra mile by shoppers is also one reason why traders prefer parking spaces right outside their shops. This is also why attempts to make Commercial Street a “Pedestrians Only” zone is yet to take off. Given an option to pay and park, as is the practice on Brigade Road, shoppers would even fork out a hefty price for every hour of parking.

In many residential localities of the City, the glut of cars has added more problems. Since most houses do not have garage facility, the cars are parked outside eating into the road space. Multiple vehicles in the same house has only worsened the scene. “Since motorcycles are stolen easily, the bikes occupy the space meant for cars inside my compound. I have to park my four-wheeler outside,” says Salman K, a resident of Annasandrapalya in HAL. 

The mushrooming of commercial establishments and malls in areas earmarked only for houses and apartments, has also triggered issues of parking. On-street parking is on the rise even in interior Malleswaram.

Policy explained

The city has over 45 lakh vehicles today, and the number is expected to be much more when the parking policy comes into force by the end of the year. The policy proposal, as approved by the Council last year, appears strong, at least on paper.

It is proposed that the parking will not be free both on the street and off the street. This includes vacant plots and basements. Once the new rule comes into force, parking lots equipped with meters, signboards and safety standards will be installed across Bangalore. Ten per cent of these spaces will be set aside for bicycles, 25 per cent for two-wheelers and exclusive areas earmarked for the disabled.

Factors that determined the parking fee would include duration, purpose and even the land price. The rate for off-street parking will be lower than on-street. Also on the Palike agenda is a provision to help office-goers and shopkeepers hire a parking lot on a monthly basis.

While heavy vehicles will not be allowed to park on the roads, smaller vehicles could make use of on-street parking only for short durations. This obviously carries the risk of increasing illegal parking. But the policy mandates hefty penalties. The task of collecting the fine will again rest with the traffic police. Aiding them monitor parking violations will be the CCTVs.

The proposed system also stresses on building more Multi Level Car Parking facilities, setting up autorickshaw stands close to parking lots, and cycle racks to encourage cycling. Parking in more than one lane will be allowed only if the road is wide enough. Otherwise, the parking lots will come up only on the right side. This facility will be available on one-ways too.

There are a few more proposals that the Palike is not keen to implement immediately. One of them is the concept of differential parking rates for peak and non-peak hours. Another is the condition that new vehicle buyers should show the proof of parking facility at the time of registration. Congestion tax is yet another proposal not on the Palike’s list for now.

Rasheed Kappan
(with inputs by G Manjusainath)

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