Thursday, 27 September 2012

Delhi to focus on parking before congestion pricing

The Economic Times (of the Times of India) reports that the Delhi Government has decided to implement a number of measures short of congestion charging to address growing congestion in the city.

Parking fees are to be increased, and enforcement of minimum emissions and safety standards of vehicles will be toughened significantly.  The expectation is that this will remove a number of vehicles from the road, as well as having positive impacts on emissions and safety.  The only problem is that this will undoubtedly target the lowest income owners of motor vehicles (who by Delhi standards are still middle income households).  

Certainly this approach makes sense, as without the ability and willingness to effectively enforce laws against vehicle owners, it is doubtful that a Delhi congestion charge could be enforced either.   A sustained effort over six months to fine or remove vehicles that don't meet laws on safety or emissions would help stem the growth in traffic.

On parking, it is also reasonable and relatively low cost to adopt robust policies on restrictions and pricing that will help traffic to flow freely and to let parking pricing be market led.  Whilst Delhi may not yet be ready for the sort of radical parking pricing now seen on trial in San Francisco and Los Angeles, a focus on parking should be the key for the immediate future, although it will not be sufficient.

There are 6.5 million vehicles in Delhi today, a number that increases on average by about 1,000 a day (the report notes there were 562,000 vehicles in 1981).  Ownership will continue to increase, and whilst public transport can be enhanced (and walking and cycling should not be neglected) and parking addressed, the fundamental problem of traffic congestion is demand exceeding supply, without the price instrument to manage it.

If Delhi can demonstrate that it can effectively enforce laws against vehicle owners on safety, emissions and parking, it shouldn't be hesitant about more detailed consideration of congestion pricing, even if it is likely to be the last policy instrument taken to help relieve traffic in the city.


  1. I am very concerned about the new parking enforcement laws being implemented within Delhi.
    I speak as a British citizen who has witnessed a downturn in revenue for shops and local businesses due to ridiculous parking costs, restrictions and heavy fines collected by private parking companies.
    Thank goodness our government and local councils came to their senses and outlawed these greedy parking control companies.
    These companies not only hand out tickets, they clamp your vehicle and charge disproportionate sums of money to remove them.
    They also run a lucrative sideline in vehicle removal, provided by their own tow trucks and usually the towed vehicles are stored in a secure pound guarded by vicious dogs and aggressive security. You can expect to pay well over 1/2 weeks wages to get your vehicle back and if you can't afford it they use your vehicle as it was their own, steal any personal belongings found inside and then sell your vehicle, keeping the profits.
    All parking enforcement staff earn more money for more tickets/clamps, so they hide in known parking hot spots to catch victims the moment they are out of site.
    Unfortunately these companies secure these parking enforcement areas on the pre tense they will improve air pollution and traffic flow whilst improving walkways etc.
    The reality is they pocket all of the proceeds whilst submitting false accounts and giving large amounts of illegal cash bundles to councillors, ministers or whoever can enable their operations.

    I have since learnt, as their businesses are now outlawed through the UK these rogues have seen an opportunity in less developed areas of the world.
    One particularly nasty company has set up in Delhi and secured sites and contracts with a large cash payment to a local Indian gentleman whom obviously has a respected and powerful position within the political infrastructure. The new plans have already been agreed in several other areas in India, i'm sure these issues have not been revealed to the people they will impact upon.
    We in the UK, France and other European members do not believe this is a positive solution to any growing transport or pollution problem, it is illegal here and never should these foreign criminals be allowed to operate anywhere else. If they do,it is because someone in local government is corrupt.
    The only improved pollution and traffic flow problem was the congestion charge zone in London enforced with full government agreement and those who live within receive concessions .

  2. Yes, there is a serious corruption problem that means that implementation of changes in India is always at risk from politicians seeking to make money from them. On parking, the government responsibility should remain with the roadside, as it is important to set fair, proportionate and effective rules, primarily for safety, but also to ensure free flow of traffic, on the roads. Offroad parking may be up to the market, but needs to be transparent and cannot go beyond what is reasonable to recover debts.