BMC considers hiking parking fee by 5 times in business hubs

BMC considers hiking parking fee by 5 times in business hubs
budget 2019,budget,interim budget 2019
BMC considers hiking parking fee by 5 times in business hubs (HT Photo)

Mumbai residents may soon have to pay five times more to park their vehicle in busy areas like south Mumbai’s Fort, Bandra Kurla Complex, Lower Parel and Goregaon. The idea, the Mumbai civic body said, is to get more commuters to use public transport, and bring down congestion created by cars parked on the roads.

“We are thinking about increasing the parking fees in business hubs during peak hours, to discourage Mumbaiites from bringing their own cars,” said Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner Ajoy Mehta. The plan is also the BMC’s way to work around implementing a congestion tax — charging every vehicle entering a busy area like a business district — which the public is likely to oppose.

The BMC will not immediately start charging people more for parking.

For now its parking authority, an enforcing body in the early stages of formation, is mapping Mumbai’s wards to spot where spaces are available, how many cars use these spaces and at what time. For instance, it would find that the Fort area, a business hub, sees heavy traffic during working hours, but is quiet at night time. Vehicle owners will then have to pay more money to park cars in this area during the peak hours. The BMC also plans to impose a heavy fine on cars parked outside the designated areas.

Transport experts felt the higher parking charges are an effective way to reduce congestion. “It will encourage the use of public transport and also help reduce pollution and accidents,” said Ashutosh Atray, a trustee of the Road Safe Foundation. Atray, however, pointed out the need for different fees and fines for bigger cars. “The owner of a long car that takes more space should pay more,” he said.

Vivek Pai, from Mumbai Mobility Forum, said the high parking fees is a clever way to work around the unpopular congestion tax.

“Charging a congestion tax is not feasible in Mumbai because the city is linear. If Mumbai was a radial city, you could create these centres in the outside rings and charge congestion tax,” said Pai, but added that it was important to consider the vehicles being charged more.

“Local residents and ambulances could be exempted,” he said.

For over a decade now, urban planners in the state have mulled the congestion tax. It has never been implemented given the lack of political will, fear of citizen backlash and poor transport infrastructure in the city. Major metros across the world, such as London, Stockholm, Milan, Singapore and San Diego, impose the congestion tax — a system of charging users to enter a high traffic density area, usually a business district, during peak traffic hours.

A tool in urban planning, the tax encourages commuters to use public transport, and prevents them from bringing private vehicles.