BMC Plan – There is an ever growing space crunch in the city of Mumbai. With the inflow of vehicles, the traffic scenario is out of control. On numerous occasions, people on social media have highlighted this issue.
An article published in October 2018, in a leading newspaper claimed that cars and bikes occupy 77% of Mumbai roads and busses just buses 2%. In the last two decades, two wheelers have increased by 385% and private cars by 280%. This is one of the main reasons the city of Mumbai experiences traffic congestion where the average speed has dropped to 10kms per hour on two main express highways during peak hours.
Research conducted by a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and three other U.S. universities on the current status of mobility in urban India, using Google maps put Mumbai at the second place, Bengaluru being first.
The leading reason for traffic jams is private vehicles that gobble up road spaces for parking. There has been an exponential influx of vehicles on the road but unfortunately, the total road length has remained around 2000 Kms for years. This has made Mumbai experience one of the most horrible traffic congestion in the country.
To overcome this issue, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is exploring unconventional ways to create parking spaces for Mumbaikars to improve the commute of people and reduce the traffic burden. They are even looking at renting private parking spaces in housing societies.
While the BMC budget was announced for 2019-20, it was proposed to provide a budget of Rs 3 crore for the creation of a parking authority which will map parking spaces and collect data in the city.
Ajoy Mehta, the Municipal Commissioner, while giving a quote to a leading newspaper said that parking is a privilege and not a right. BMC Plan is looking at increasing the number of public parking lots by exploring the space housing societies can offer.
Mehta added that this move is not just for increasing the number of public parking lots but also for making people gradually transition from using their own vehicles to public transport. When one leaves for work, their parking lot can be used by someone else for a fee that will be given to the housing society. The plan is to put this information online in order to make people aware of the parking spaces that are free and for what duration of time.
The BMC chief, while talking about the way ahead and sustainability of this exercise said that at some point in the future, there might be an introduction of peak time charges. The idea is to calibrate parking charges as per the demand which means if someone wants to get a parking spot when roads are congested, they will have to pay more to the society and public parking lots. The additional municipal commissioner will be managing this exercise. The additional municipal commissioner will also be hands-on in creating the core committee and will take the role of a Parking Commissioner.
The parking commissioner will be the authority who will decide the rules, technology to be used and the charges levied on people for utilizing the parking spaces. For seamless execution of the proposal will be supported by the data collated by Town planners and the staff of the All India Institute of Local Self Government.
Reacting to the plan proposed by the BMC Plan, Transport analyst Sudhir Badami said that individuals pay for their parking spaces and the ownership of the same lies with them. He said that he is compelled to use his car to travel to his work due to the absence of an efficient public transport system. He further said that in 2009 the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority put the ball in BMC’s court to look into Bus Rapid Transport System, but the civic body failed to do so.
Badami shared his discomfort in letting others utilize his private parking space stating that these issues would not have arisen if the municipal body along with its successive commissioners had taken up the issue on public transport.
Joseph highlighted the issues that will arise when public cars and private spaces are merged. According to him, the existing parking lots are not being utilized optimally. According to him, the focus of BMC Plan should be on parking lots in commercial areas that have been created by giving builders extra FSI.
Do you think this scheme will reduce the traffic burden in Mumbai and also provide a solution to the parking crunch in the city and how comfortable are you with the idea of peak time charges? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.