Smart parking on 25 streets in CBD from March

A pilot project had been carried out on Kasturba Road to test the Smart Parking System.   | Photo Credit: K_MURALI_KUMAR

If navigating the city’s infamous traffic is a Herculean task, finding that coveted parking spot is equally daunting. But the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is getting ‘smart’ about this. The civic body will be introducing smart parking on 25 roads in the Central Business District (CBD), including M.G. Road and Church Street, in March.

This is the first phase of the smart parking system, which is to be introduced on 87 roads across the CBD grouped into categories A, B and C based on traffic volume. Initially, this system will be introduced on roads covered in Category A.

The pilot project was taken up on Kasturba Road two months ago. “Smart parking on Kasturba Road has streamlined parking and traffic movement. It has also helped motorists,” said a senior civic official.

However, the real test of this system will begin when it is introduced on 25 roads, as many of these roads are narrower, said a traffic police officer.

BBMP has taken up the project under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model and given a 20-year tender to Central Parking System (CPS) for managing paid parking on these roads. The civic body will get a share of the revenue.

The smart parking system will have demarcated parking slots for four-wheelers and two-wheelers that can even be pre-booked on a mobile app. The parking fee can be paid digitally or through cash at the smart meters on these roads. The fee has been fixed at ₹30 for four-wheelers and ₹20 for two-wheelers for an hour.

A case for off-street parking

Though the civic body’s proposal to introduce smart parking is aimed at decongesting the city’s roads, on-street parking has always been a contentious issue.

The erstwhile city corporation abolished parking fee in 2006 following allegations of corruption. The proposal to reintroduce a fee was made in 2011, which is being implemented only now.

The proposal continues to draw the ire of several urban mobility experts. “The roadway should be used solely for traffic movement and not for parking, especially given the congestion in the city,” traffic expert Prof. M.N. Srihari said.

The draft Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) for the city also argues for provision of more off-street parking rather than on-street parking facilities. The draft CMP includes an on-street parking survey at seven locations in the CBD. The survey showed on-street parking is dominated by two-wheelers and reduces the roadway in the range of 18%- 48%.

“On-street parking is affecting mobility with reduced road space available for the movement of traffic, and the manoeuvres of parked vehicles obstruct traffic flow, often leading to congestion,” the draft CMP notes.

The CMP argues for more public off-street parking facilities. The city has over 80 lakh vehicles today but only 14 off-street parking facilities while one is coming up at Freedom Park. The CMP says the present facilities provide parking for 1,300 cars and 4,000 two-wheelers, which is also underutilised as on-street parking is free.

The draft CMP proposes building 50 off-street parking facilities in the core areas.

The draft CMP also says: “As far as possible, on-street parking should not be allowed on major mobility travel corridors. Where space is available these need to be provided on the service road in an organised manner to limit the impact on traffic movement”.

‘Problem is in the fee’

Urban mobility expert Pawan Mulukutla said on-street parking need not be completely eliminated, but an appropriate pricing has to be arrived at. “Internationally, the accepted norm is that a suitable market pricing has to be discovered such that the utilisation rate is about 85%. It has to discourage private vehicles, and the cost of off-street parking must be less than on-street parking,” he said. “But, ₹30 for four-wheelers and ₹20 for two-wheelers per hour is very low, and not prohibitive,” he added.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 7:24:13 PM |

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