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Car parking infrastructure and quality of urban spaces

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Private transport

Even with improving public transportation like the metro, the demand for parking in public places will only increase due to the rapid increase in car numbers. - - - Governments are alive to the problem and have created different business models to build multilevel car parks in public places. These include public-private partnership ( PPP), granting additional floor space in lieu of a car park, to constructing them at their own cost.

- - - Standalone multilevel car parks are not financially successful due to low tariffs, the high cost of land, cost of construction and operating systems. They have to be subsidised through public funds and/ or provision of free land, and in many instances, allowing the development to have other commercial use to subsidise the parking component as well. This subsidy will continue until parking tariffs begin to reflect the true opportunity cost of the land and building costs.

In the absence of economic parameters, a metric must be defined than can measure the efficiency of a public car park to maximise the financial returns (high revenue, low investment) to the owner of the facility as well improve the quality of the parking experience for the visiting public. Needless to say, the metric should be simple and easily measurable.

- - - Selection of the right technology is also extremely critical as it impacts the capital and operating costs as well as efficiency. The basic ramp and slab structure is the cheapest and most efficient in terms of parking and retrieval time, but has a storage footprint of approximately 35 square metres per vehicle. On the other end of the spectrum is the fully automated system where vehicles are moved to storage bins through a combination of elevators and conveyors. The footprint per vehicle reduces to about 20 square metres. However, the capital cost almost doubles per bay. The operating and maintenance costs also shoot up. Between the two extremes, stack and puzzle parking systems are available.

- - - A computerised parking management system is needed to improve efficiency while the tendering process should not focus on the economic bid to the exclusion of other parameters like the financial and technical capabilities of the bidder, track record, statutory compliances, ethics etc

Lastly, an effective marketing plan is crucial, with a two-pronged effort. The first is to get regular customers on a long-term stay basis. Specific products like monthly parker, early bird etc have been designed towards this. The second effort is to interface with the retailers so that traffic can be directed towards them with promotional offers and redemptions. This will get the local community involved in the success of the car park.

To read the full text of the excellent article on by Mr Arvind Mayar, CEO of a multinational car park operator, in the ToI, click here.

Even with the best of public transport services, along-with various forms of disincentives for usage of individualised forms of transport, a city would still require good parking infrastructurre, particularly in the CBD's. All the infrastructure available in the city today, except perhaps in the UB city, Forum Mall, and a few other places, are generally in dismal state. And, while the BBMP repeatedly comes up with talk of promoting new infrastructure, perhaps they need to study the models suggested by the author, instead of building caverns which end up as dump yards.

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