In 6 months, expect a smarter, more effective parking system in Chandigarh
FASTag for quick payment, a guidance system on whether to enter the parking lot at all and booking facility among host of improvements being planned by Chandigarh MC
Swift parking through FASTag, parking guidance system, license plate recognition and incentives for shopkeepers using designated spaces are in the offing, as the Chandigarh municipal corporation is all set to revamp its parking management system.
Before the tenure of the current parking contracts ends in January 2023, MC is planning to float fresh tenders by September/October to bring in advancements in the parking system as the next contracts come into effect next year.
While most aspects of the new parking management system are under active consideration, introduction of FASTag in all MC-run parking lots is certain. UT adviser Dharam Pal has already directed MC officials to work out modalities for its introduction.
Introduction of FASTag would eliminate the need for physical payment of parking fee and manning of the entry points. The boom barrier will be linked with FASTag for automatic operation.
As two-wheelers don’t use FASTag, MC is considering making parking free for them. Parking for electric vehicles (EVs) is already free, as decided by the administration under its EV Policy. The FASTag system is also likely to incorporate the option of pick and drop without any charge.
MC commissioner Anindita Mitra said, “We want to bring in latest technology and minimise human interface to improve parking management. Keeping these aspects in mind, we are formulating a new request for proposal (RFP) with new terms and conditions as per directions of the UT adviser. We will float the tenders in September/October and the new system will be introduced by January/February.”
Automatic number-plate recognition to check vehicle theft
There is also a proposal to introduce automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) to check car theft and revenue leakage. The technology is supported by processes to match the vehicle’s licence plate registration, facial image of the motorist and the payment transaction.
A simple and effective parking guidance system (PGS) is also planned. PGS guides a driver at the entry to decide whether to enter the parking lot or not. And if they enter, where to park the vehicle efficiently.
MC is also considering connecting all parking lots over an IT fibre network. An official said, “It will help in effective monitoring of all parking lots from a central control centre. It will allow real-time monitoring and control of parking lots with live CCTV footage.”
A facility to book the parking spaces through a mobile app is also being considered.
“Introducing financial incentives, like lower parking fee for shopkeepers who use designated parking spaces, are also being worked upon. Shopkeepers park their vehicles all day, which blocks parking for visitors,” said the official.
Parking rates may increase
With improvements in facilities, the parking rates can also increase. “But the final decision will be up to the MC General House and the administration. Earlier, as contractors failed to implement all smart parking features, hourly rise in parking charges was not allowed,” said the official.
RITES pointed out need for major improvements
In April, after its survey of city’s parking system, RITES (Rail India Technical and Economic Service) had listed several problems with it.
It had pointed out that there was no real-time tracking or data/report for analysis of the parking lots. Commuters waste considerable time in searching for a vacant parking spot, which causes traffic congestion, further leading to stress on users and pollution.
Highlighting sub-optimal utilisation of space, RITES had also pointed out lack of flexibility in parking charges. Among its various suggestions was introduction of an easy payment mechanism.
The working of the current parking contractors has been under scanner for quite some time and they have been repeatedly penalised for several shortcomings. Complaints regarding overcharging, chaos at entry/exit points, traffic snarls at parking lots and lack proper space management have been common.
Though the contractors were mandated to convert the lots into smart parking, even after several years, smart parking has yet to be made operational completely. The smart features include e-ticketing, HD night-vision CCTV cameras, smart card passes, LED display of real-time occupancy and online booking of parking space.