High road tax, parking rates can reduce car use in Delhi: CSE

In a letter to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, CSE citing examples of various cities including London, Stockholm and Tokyo, said experience from across the world showed that parking controls, parking pricing along with taxes top the list as first generation car restraint measures.

"With hidden subsidies like low charges for road usage and parking, cars have completely taken over the road space," the CSE said adding Indian cities charge a "pittance" for road usage and for parking as compared to many other world cities which must reverse.
According to statistics, there are nearly 65 lakh vehicles registered in the city while the total number of vehicles in Delhi is more than the total number of vehicles in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. On an average over 1,000 vehicles are added to the city roads everyday.

Favouring massive spending in further scaling up public transport system, the CSE said a part of the funding can be met if the cars are made to pay for the externalities.

"For instance, Stockholm expects to generate equivalent to Rs 366 crore from congestion charges annually from this year that will be used for transit development," the CSE said also analysing the situation in major Indian cities.

Noting that Delhi must tap the revenue streams from "congestion charges and restraint taxes", the prominent environmental NGO said cars cannot continue to enjoy direct and hidden subsidy and privileges on roads.

Holding that the growing car volume has resulted in increase in pollution level in the city, the CSE said right price tag on cars and its usages will make a difference and encourage people to move to public transport.

The letter said despite having a high car ownership of 350 cars per 1,000 people, Tokyo provides less parking slots --only 0.5 slots per 100 square metres in commercial buildings. But Delhi with 85 cars per 1,000 people provides 2 to 3 parking slots per 100 square metres.

"With congestion tax and good public transport, central London has reduced traffic volume by 25 per cent, congestion by 30 per cent. Singapore with ownership restrictions has kept the annual car growth rate well within 3 per cent as opposed to more than 10 per cent in Delhi," the CSE said.

"Indian cities including Delhi have begun to prepare parking policy but this must include parking controls and pricing to dampen car usage," it said.

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