Car is King: Goa at the mercy of parking rule

The CCF team discusses the parking issue in Goa, and the state’s much-awaited response.

 

If you have ever found yourself driving past your destination and circling around for that elusive space free of a ‘No Parking’ sign (or ignoring that), you are part of an overwhelming majority in Goa. The situation isn’t unusual in a state where the annual vehicle growth rate is almost 10 times that of the population growth rate (2001-2011) (Source: Draft Parking Policy, IPSCL).

draft-parking-policy_ipscdl-7-e1553841170779.jpg

Source: Draft Parking Policy, IPSCL

This phenomenal increase in traffic volume coupled with limited road space in major cities in the state account for the state’s parking woes. An unreliable public transport system and the general attitude towards car ownership, with its attached social status, evince that, without an efficient implementation of a holistic parking policy, the problem will not go away any time soon. The problem isn’t without irony: according to the Central Road Research Institute, an average car’s steering time in only 400 hours a year. That means a typical vehicle stays parked 95% of the time!

The past decade’s figures reveal the extent of the problem: with a 14.5 lakh population (Source: Census 2011) and a whopping 54.8 lakh tourist footfall in 2018 alone (Source: Department of Tourism, Govt. of Goa), it is evident that Goa’s thriving tourism industry heavily relies on the rental automobile industry. Where is the road space for all these vehicles?

img_7235.jpgTwo-wheelers encroach upon footpaths, making pedestrians vulnerable to moving vehicles on the carriageway.

The conventional methods of dealing with parking have largely been to increase the supply to meet the demand, by providing additional infrastructure for the driver rather than providing enough choices for the commuters, in terms of alternative public transport. The former, a limited approach, only leads to a system which will be insufficient in due course of time as it attracts more and more vehicles, as against a fixed parameter of road capacity.

To tackle parking, it is important to derive logical solutions to parking, based on its types: on-street parking and off-street parking. In its proposed Decongestion Model for Panaji City Centre in 2014, CCF called for delineation of on-street parking and a paid parking strategy. A significant parking fee for visitors encourages them to park off-street, in strategically located multi-storey parking structures, and use a regulated hop-on hop-off bus system into the city. The Model recommended a discounted parking allowance for shop owners and free parking for residents.

141118_Decongestion report-41CCF’s proposed off-street parking management in the Decongestion Model of the Panaji City Centre

 

parkingCCF’s proposed on-street parking management in the Decongestion Model of the Panaji City Centre

In the Draft Parking Policy, Imagine Panaji Smart City Limited has envisioned the following parking management strategies:

  1. Delineation of on-street parking
  2. Introduction of parking reservations on streets
  3. Pricing for on-street parking
  4. Pricing for off-street parking
  5. Parking permit schemes for residential and work zones
  6. Use of technology for Smart Parking
  7. Instituting a Parking Cell for enforcement
  8. Reconsidering building regulations to reduce parking minimums
  9. Introduction of Proof of Parking attached to the owner’s residential location
  10. Planning parking for the relatively sustainable electric vehicles

Parking-Basics-7Source: Parking Basics, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy

The Smart City parking proposal reconsiders the status quo: the automobile should not dominate the street. With an aim to prioritise the safe movement of people, services and goods on the road network, it seeks to enhance walkability of the city.

With demand-based pricing formulated on various factors—land value, vehicle type and duration of parking, parking district, and existing demand in the parking—the policy “enhances turnover of parking bays and ensures access to limited on-street parking in high parking demand areas.” The proposal also provides for any plans for the future of mobility: electric vehicles, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Parking-Basics-13Source: Parking Basics, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy

The implementation of such parking solutions has a rough road ahead. The pay-parking system, introduced in Panaji in 2016, failed to bring any discipline to the city’s chaotic and mismanaged traffic and was discontinued in 2017 after the expiry of the contract awarded to a private operator. (Source: Herald Goa) However, the Corporation of the City of Panaji has decided, in March 2019, to reinstate the system using its workers to implement it (Source: Times of India Goa). Other tourist-attracting centres, such as Candolim and Old Goa, have also implemented the system to restrict unregulated parking and gain revenue.

Over recent decades, it has become evident that parking is an issue constantly and disproportionately growing with city size, in India and across the world. With timely implementation of the parking policy in its major urban centres, Goa has the chance to buck the trend, and ‘park’ the issue at the kerb!