Mumbai’s car parking woes

June 10, 2015 / By  

More than three years ago, a news headline said, “Mumbai has one parking spot for every 120 vehicles.” There has been no major improvement in the situation so far. Get this, there are only 0.33 million designated car parking spaces for 0.72 million cars and another 50,000 cars were added in 2013-14.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which operates 92 pay-and-park areas in the city limits, has 47 of them located in south Mumbai – a commercial hub with many decades-old buildings. The car parking crisis here is worse than in the suburbs, although the latter are also heading towards a similar situation.

While many BMC-run parking lots in south Mumbai are used for parking during the day, cars are illegally parked on the streets, more so during the night. And there has been a half-hearted effort to discourage the free parking of cars on roads at night.

While BMC, in January 2015, passed a policy on public parking and parking on roads by residents at night, it was a pilot project for three months and it met with a backlash from all quarters. Residents, especially those living in older buildings, see parking on the streets as their right. Whether the plan to make residents pay INR 1,800 every month to park cars at night on roads outside buildings in Mumbai will be implemented across the city is still to be seen.

In September 2014, the Maharashtra state government made an amendment that allowed developers to claim 50% FSI towards the construction of public-private parking lots. In south Mumbai, out of the eight proposals – with a capacity of about 15,500 parking spaces – only one project has been completed so far. Its capacity is 650. Two more projects are currently under construction. In the suburbs, of the 32 proposals approved by BMC, only two are complete. So far, of the 35 multistorey parking lots with a capacity of 800 cars each, only four are operational.

All this points to one thing: incentivising developers to solve the city’s parking woes is a model that is not working. In such a scenario, developing an efficient and sustainable public transport system to discourage the use of private cars – as is done globally in many cities – is the need of the hour in Mumbai too. Other ways could include charging higher taxes on car sales to discourage their use and pulling up developers who have clearly not done their part.

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