‘Aim is to provide ample parking, with reduced congestion’

If you’ve ever parked your vehicle at The Forum, Garuda Mall, UB City, or the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, you would have certainly received a parking fee ticket, with ‘CPS’ printed on it. CPS or Central Parking Services is India’s largest parking management company, managing over 150 parking lots across 36 cities, and wanting to double the same to 225 lots in the next financial year. CPS is also eyeing revenues of Rs 250 crore in 2018-19, from the current Rs 70 crore, apart from an investment roadmap of about Rs 300 crore over the next 36-48 months.

With 97% of parking in India being unorganised, despite a business size of Rs 6,500 crore, CPS Managing Director Satyanarayanan N tells DH’s Hrithik Kiran Bagade about the role of technology in parking management, and his company’s opportunity there. Edited excerpts:

Share the journey that your company has had so far.

We are the largest parking company in the country. We have always parked a bike or a car at a railway station or airport, so parking as a business has always been there in this country.

When we started in 2005, essentially, we were looking at doing the entire parking right from design, to technology, to operation. So we started providing end-to-end solutions, mostly to shopping malls, airports, healthcare facilities, and event spaces.

One of the things that we have always relied upon is how technology can make a difference and bring a paradigm shift in the entire parking experience. We developed a whole lot of areas around parking in terms of technology. 

Parking is a billion-dollar business. Any city can offer parking spaces. But unless it’s tied to the enforcement bit, it’s not going to work. The reason is that it will not really bring about a change in behaviour, so today you are talking of people lacking civic sense. There’s an idea that cities in India are waking up to, that if you take the parking space in civil areas, this is an asset that belongs to its city, and therefore, to its citizens.

If around 97% of parking in India is unorganised, what according to you means organised?

There are three elements in parking to call it organised - one is design. You enter a parking lot, where there is a smooth ingress and egress. For example, if you take UB City, you will enter a big ramp, go park and then go down, and then the whole thing will show you out of UB City. What we like to do is create a one-way system, where we don’t make a confusing decision point, and where you have to just follow the traffic till you find a parking space with markings.

The second component which is very important is technology, wherein there is something called Ireview management system, which is mostly software-based; and the third one is the signs.

If the supply of the road remains 50% and the demand remains the same, then it is going to cause traffic congestion. That’s where organised parking would make a big difference.

What role does technology play in seamless parking?

You can have a control and command centre where you actually see different parking lots, and what is happening, and you know that the ‘t4’ parking lot is full, and therefore, you kind of incentivise people to go to ‘t5’, or you resort to dynamic pricing. The idea is, there should always be availability.

Today, you can see that the parking ticket is dead. My phone itself becomes a parking ticket. I have a 3D barcode, just like what happens with today’s airlines. My phone is my ID, and that allows me to enter and exit out. I can pay for parking through digital wallets like Paytm. The other thing is that enforcement and parking is combined. That kind of changes the behaviour of citizens. The next thing is of cash-handling, which is done by machines called auto pay stations, where you pay money to a machine, so there’s no queuing at the exit for this. Then there are geomagnetic sensors, which can give qualitative information about a person’s parking patterns.

Do all the parking spaces you’re operating have these facilities?

Not all, but with respect to cities, the newer parking lots that we are doing have all of them. We are currently applying this in Bengaluru, wherein the parking for 85 roads will have all these facilities, where if you go to MG Road or St. Marks Road, you can use a QR code, an app, you can pay cash or cashless.

And all this encompasses the revenue management system; the fact that if you overstay, I will come and enforce you, and if you’ve not paid, I’ll enforce you; these are all a part of the revenue management system to make sure that the revenue is intact and there is an accountability.

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