It’s 10 pm on a weekday and the city’s ungodly peak hour traffic begins to trickle down. Yet a few inner streets and a bridge near the busy Nelson Manickam Road, home to a popular mall, are littered with two-wheelers. For the movie-goers in city, finding parking space that doesn’t eat into their popcorn money is still a problem.
Malls aren’t exactly charitable in letting people use their parking space. More often than not, movie-goers and shoppers spend as much on parking as they would on a meal. For those who follow the rules and park inside the mall, costs are `30-60 for the first two hours and then anywhere between Rs 20-50 for every additional hour. This has also birthed a parallel business opportunity. Right across a popular mall in the city, a private parking space has been opened, offering cheaper parking options.
Few of the city’s mall and multiplex enthusiasts have a few suggestions to resolve the issue. “If I just visit the mall, there’s no guarantee I’ll give the establishment any business. But at least upon producing a movie ticket, They should waive my parking charges. I can’t use public transport after a night show anyway. Similarly, large shops can do the same,” suggests Akshara Gandavadi, an office-goer, adding that this system already exists at a few shops.
Similarly, V Raju of Velachery, who has had mall-goers park on his property, says a uniform parking charge across establishments — or a charge-based on-demand system would make things more fair. “A standard pricing system would also discourage those who park illegally,” he opines. The mall in question, when asked how they fixed parking charges, did not respond.
Raj Cherubal, founder, Chennai City Connect, argues that a scientific parking management system is the solution. “People park in places like malls because they consider it safe for their vehicles. Also, you can park without obstructing anybody else’s property. It’s a legal parking space. If this is available outside a private establishment, why would people spend money on parking?” he asks.
Due to the lack of effective parking regulations in the city — as Chennai Corporation’s proposed IT-enabled parking is yet to take off — private set up receiving large crowds have pricing systems that are arbitrary. “I don’t know what I’m paying for when I pay `120 to park my bike. If a place charges rent for parking based on location, space available etc., I would like to know those parameters. It seems very random, as each mall charges a different amount. In addition, weekend costs are different,” says Mubarak Abdul Khader, an entrepreneur.
Organisations like ITDP (Institute of Transportation Development and Planning) mention in their parking guidebook that it should be seen as a commodity when offered by a private enterprise. This would mean that based on whether it is at a prime property or not, the crowd can decide the parking charge, as it is basically a consumer ‘renting out space’ for their vehicle. Meanwhile, the lack of uniformity and the delay in introducing a city-wide regulatory system irks people every day.