Improve public transport before hiking parking rates

The state government doesn’t seem to be doing much to cap the rising number of private vehicles on the road. Their approach towards providing a decent mode of public transport remains dismal. Crowded local trains, infrequent public buses and unruly taxi and auto rickshaw drivers make public transport an ordeal in the city.

Amidst this chaos comes the new ruling of hiked parking rates by the BMC, which would largely be borne by Mumbaikars, especially those coming all the way to south Mumbai. Given the poor public transport system, the insufficient parking lots and the undeniable space crunch in the city, this decision to hike parking rates will surely infuriate motorists in days to come.

Discounts and bumper prizes are attractive enough for citizens to buy four-wheelers. Every day, the city’s three RTO offices in the Mumbai jurisdiction (Tardeo, Ghatkopar and Andheri) register at least 1,000 vehicles; four-wheelers comprise a major portion of this number.

Before hiking the parking rates, the BMC or the state government should have thought of improving the public transport system and infrastructure. Unlike in developed countries or even developing nations in many cases, we don’t have good roads or proper connectivity. To add to this, there is non-availability of various modes of transport.

No matter how much transport experts assert the importance of a ‘congestion tax’, of which increased parking charges is a vital component, the fact remains that people will turn to public transport only if they get better service. The Metro rail and Monorail projects are yet to see the light of the day. They will take a few more years before they match up to the expectations of Mumbaikars, who are used to travelling on local trains.

While BMC makes tall claims that almost 90 per cent of the city’s population use public transport, the actual figure, transport planners say, was around 80 per cent. This too has reduced, and presently, it stands at 78 per cent. In reality, 75 lakh people travel in suburban local trains, 40 lakh by BEST bus and 55 lakh use taxis and auto rickshaws. This hike in rates is expected to discourage private vehicles users. In the present scenario, one can only hope that it does. 

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