The National Capital Territory of Delhi has the highest number of vehicles per capita in India. In 2019-’20, there were 643 vehicles per 1,000 population or three vehicles per household in Delhi. This is in spite of private motor vehicles constituting close to one-third of work trips in Delhi and with close to half the trips – 48% – being under 5km.
Simultaneously, Delhi faces severe air pollution with transport contributing to 51% of all PM 2.5 – particulate matter – emissions in 2021. While the metro-rail system has expanded to 391 km and 286 stations, its daily ridership on the system was only half – 52% – the projected ridership in 2019-’20.
First and last-mile connectivity has been a concern for entry and exit to the metro-rail stations. However, little attention paid to the lack of on-street parking management, and the appropriation of road space by car users – the Metro’s primary beneficiary group – within the vicinity of the stations.
In 2019, the Delhi government notified the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules, 2019, to regulate on-street parking and promote sustainable modes of transport.
The rules proposed the formulation of Parking Management Area Plans, higher pricing for on-street parking facilities and enforcement through the Intelligent Transport Management System.
The rules recommend that 25% of the parking revenue be reinvested into the neighbourhood to improve access to public transport, walking and cycling. Currently, 16 parking management area plans are being prepared, with fragmented implementation.
The Centre for Sustainable and Equitable Cities conducted an action-oriented research, between October 2021-April ’22, to understand parking behaviour within a five-minute walking distance of one metro-rail station – Green Park metro station – in Delhi.
The research included a literature review of local and global case studies, such as Chennai, Paris, Tokyo, Taiwan, Barcelona, 200 surveys with metro-users, 400 surveys with personal motor vehicle users, and parking counts and 12-hour-long licence plate surveys along 12 major road stretches in the area.
The findings revealed that 70% of metro-users walked to and from the Metro station. In fact, walking was the main mode of transport for distances up to 1.2 km. However, the major roads in the area had insufficient, discontinuous, broken or non-existent footpaths with 80% of the space allocated to motor vehicles. On numerous roads, footpaths were encroached or blocked by parked vehicles.
On the other hand, parking was very convenient for private vehicle users with an average cruising time of less than two minutes for 87% of drivers. Additionally, 74% of drivers reported walking less than 100 metres to their destination. To compound this issue, only 30% of the major road stretches were priced.
It was observed that more than half the vehicles – 51%, 2,726 equivalent car spaces – parked for less than half an hour while being charged at a flat rate per hour. This resulted in arguments between private vehicle users and parking management contractors.
Further, 18% – or 985 equivalent car spaces – of the parking demand is currently long-term at more than two hours, while the multi-level car park in the vicinity was underutilised, with an occupancy of 32%.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi currently earns a revenue of Rs 13.0 lakh per annum from the on-street and off-street parking locations in the study area.
The research revealed that Municipal Corporation of Delhi could earn Rs 10-19 crore per annum if on-street parking was priced based on demand, with higher rates than off-street parking facilities and at half-hour intervals for the first two hours.
If 25% of the revenue, ranging from Rs 2.5-5 crore per annum, was reinvested into the neighbourhood, nine major roads in the area could be redesigned in four years.
Delhi has a Metro rail network of 286 stations. If on-street parking was managed in Delhi within a five-minute walking distance of even 15% – about 40 – Metro stations, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi could earn Rs 400-760 crore per annum and reinvest Rs 100-190 crore back into these neighbourhoods to promote low carbon mobility, that is creating high-quality walking and cycling environments to access public transport.
World-class cities are reappropriating on-street parking for walking and cycling. Paris is removing its on-street parking to create cycling infrastructure and amenities such as bicycle stands.
On-street pricing is priced significantly higher, to facilitate the shift to off-street parking locations. Tokyo permits vehicle registration upon demonstration of proof of parking
As Delhi continues to expand its metro-rail system and improve multi-modal integration, it needs to be accompanied with on-street parking management. This will ensure that private vehicle use is regulated and discouraged around mass transit stations as a first step to promote low-carbon mobility, and people-oriented streets.
Sonal Shah is an experienced urban planner, and the Executive Director of the Centre for Sustainable and Equitable Cities. Rithvika Rajiv and Amal Jose are part of the core team who conducted this action-oriented research.