There is growing demand that stakeholders in charge of the transportation sector take a definitive stand on regulating and streamlining parking in the city.
Being the highest transportation-policy making body in the region, Kochi’s Unified Metropolitan Transportation Authority (UMTA) could take the lead in curbing indiscriminate parking that is choking Kochi’s arterial and side roads, said T. Elangovan, former director of National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) and the present head of its Traffic and Transportation division. The Traffic Advisory Committee chaired by the District Collector had a decisive role in clamping down on illegal and haphazard parking, he said.
Referring to cities and towns in Europe, Mr. Elangovan said the civic bodies concerned deputed ‘parking wardens’ to regulate parking and penalise rule violators. “That way, motorists, pedestrians and traders are happy since parked vehicles do not hamper their free movement and business,” he said.
Within India, cities such as Bangalore have premium parking lots where motorists have to pay a higher fee per hour as compared to the fee for regular lots. Thus, even two wheelers have to pay up to Rs. 15 per hour, while hourly parking charge for cars may be up to Rs. 30. Moreover, there are different parking spaces for two and four-wheelers, thus ensuring optimal use of precious space within the city.
Mr. Elangovan expressed concern at newly-widened parts of many roads being taken over by parked vehicles. “The traffic police must designate dedicated parking areas and install sign boards that specify the place where parking area begins and ends. They can deploy automatic fork trucks that do not damage vehicles to remove them.” Hefty parking fee will indirectly act as congestion fee and lessen the number of private vehicles entering the city. Local bodies could operate parking lots from vacant government land, thus increasing revenue collection, he said.
Multi-level car parking too is gaining ground in a few parts of the district. “Though capital investment for a car parking slot comes to around Rs. 3 lakh, the system ensures optimal use of space,” said Dinu Krishnan, manager of a firm that manufactures automated robotic parking systems. “All that it takes is just over a minute to park a car and retrieve it. A unit of power is enough to park 20 cars,” he added.
An official of the corporation’s town planning wing said many commercial buildings violated parking norms by converting parking space into shops, forcing customers to park their vehicles on the road.