Issues and Challenges of Parking in Indian Metropolises by Avnika Nagar

A city can be friendly to people or it can be friendly to cars, but it can’t be both. – Enrique Peñalosa

Need for the study

Economic and population growth have led to rapid urbanization and changes in the metropolitan infrastructures. Rapid motorisation and inadequate space to support it are one of the most important factors influencing the mobility and accessibility in a city. As a result of the development induced changes, demand for facilities like parking is increasing. Tremendous pressure on parking spaces have led to serious concerns like traffic congestion, accidents, disproportionate demand and supply ratio, environmental hazards etc. Excessive consumption of the private vehicles negatively impacts the environment and the public at large but still private vehicles continue to be a preferred and convenient mode of communication. The present assignment focuses on the common problems and challenges faced by the parking sector in a country like India.

The chief research question which the paper seeks to answer are:

  • What are the common parking problems faced by highly populated Indian cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi in India?
  • What are the proposed solutions to the identified problems of parking in these cities?

The paper is further subdivided under following heads which are covered in brief:

  • Problem of saturated parking spaces
  • The problem of unregulated tariff structure and the price is not proportional to demand
  • Preference of on-street parking over off-street parking
  • The problem of cruising
  • Problem of parking in residential apartments
  • Problem of parking on special occasions 
  • Environmental problems due to parking

The number of parking spaces available Indian cities are significantly less compared to the number of cars commuting in the city everyday and the pace at which the registration of new cars are taking place will always create a barrier in the meeting of the equilibrium demand and supply of parking lots. Thus increasing the number of parking lots is never the solution, Donald Shoup suggests putting a cap on the parking requirement, setting a maximum will limit the availability of the infrastructure and replace public transport with private vehicles.

 The parking spaces in India are priced extremely low and this is one of the reason why private vehicles are becoming the most preferred mode of transportation. The idea of surged parking is absent in most of the cities in India which leads to parking spillovers. Parking prices can thus be used as an instrument to control the excess demand. Another innovative solution to deal with parking spillover is the creation of informal markets in the backyards and lawns of the people, this is a highly suggested method during festivals like Durga Puja and Dussehra.

A common pattern noticed among the crowd in India is that the people prefer on street parking over off- street parking primarily because the former is cheaper than the latter. This is one of the reason why drivers tend to cruise their cars for cheaper parking, thus appropriate pricing of all types pf parking will help relief traffic congestion and undesirable road fights, arguments and accidents. Cruising also occurs when the parking lots are full. One of the policies suggested by a renowned academician Donald Shoup is avoiding peak occupancy exceeding 80% and encourage minimum of 40%. Parking exceeding 90% leads to long search timing and entry exit queues and the driver thereby loses on his/ her time. Early bird and off peak discounts can also be given to control the parking crowd.

One of the primary reason behind the sky high costs of residential is the presence of parking lot in them which complicates the designs and raises the budget of construction significantly. This also increases the rents and makes housing unaffordable. Thus residential without parking facilities can be thought of so that housing becomes affordable for lower income groups. Pollutants like oil and grease are washed off from the parking lots into the water bodies during the rains. The pollutants contaminate the water table and are also responsible for urban heat island effect. The pollutants it emits causes health hazards and may cause respiratory and cardiovascular damages. One of the ways to mitigate the detrimental impacts from the parking lots is the use of solar panels in the parking lots which can help in the generation of electricity. Shading the parking lots with solar canopies may reduce the usage of air conditioners, increase fuel efficiency and reduces tailpipe emissions, thus it can contribute in reducing pollution and climate change.


Parking Space assigns no property rights, it is a very important resource for the efficient operation of lives of the people today and survival of the earliest is the mantra to emerge victorious in this competition. The case of parking is applicable to the central idea of economics which asserts that economy’s finite resources are insufficient to satisfy all human wants and needs. The demand for parking spaces is rising considerably and it is very important to realize that our resources are limited and we cannot conveniently plan parking spaces as per the demand of an economy. Increase in the number of our available parking space should be the last idea worth considering. The problems discussed in the paper do not stand in isolation and are interwoven. Efforts taken to improve on will aid in diminishing the other. Working more in the already existing policies and increasing our technical soundness would be appreciable attempts. Countries like Australia, Ireland, Dubai etc. have invested both time and resources in order to reform parking strategies. They have come up with sound and efficient ideas like parking meters and mobile parking apps which makes the search easy for the people and if the ideas like setting price according to demand and occupancy control are implemented, technical affluence will work as a brownie point for the consumers and for the city as a whole.

More detailed work can be downloaded here 

Author Bio: Avnika Nagar is a Masters student at Tata Institute Of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

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