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Showing posts from May, 2010

Singapore-Malaysia cross-border transport agreement and opportunities

Singapore's bicycle community has noticed that last week's agreement on the Malayan Railways (KTM) corridor could create a wonderful bikeway opportunity. So far, this angle has had no media attention. More on this at the end but first I want to reflect on the wider issues in the agreement.


A few years back, in my geographer days, I wrote about the surface links between Singapore and Malaysia. These are both international transport and urban transport at the same time. After a long saga, the two countries have finally reached an agreement on several important cross-border transport issues. 

At the time I studied this about 5 years ago, it was an intriguing tale and a case of remarkably problematic cross-border cooperation. I am glad that win-win resolutions look like emerging. 

My 2006 paper on this (pdf; publisher site) discussed three main aspects and the latest announcement relates to all three (as well as several other issues, such as cross-border taxis, buses and reviv…

Parking prices from a different angle

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Is $400 per month for season parking outrageous or reasonable?

Well, it depends ... But what does it depend on?

One suggestion: the price of a hamburger! This rule-of-thumb for hourly parking prices comes from Pete Goldin at the Parking World blog yesterday, citing Dr Adhiraj Joglekar, founder of the website driving-india.blogspot.com. Hmmm. I guess they are alluding, tongue-in-cheek, to the Big Mac Index from the Economist. This index uses burger prices to correct for differences in the purchasing power of money in different countries.

But seriously, what is the right comparison?

Purchasing power is obviously not the only issue here, since parking prices usually vary from place to place within every city. Prices range from zero in many suburban parking lots to 'expensive' in the city centre. But the last time I looked burgers were not free-of-charge in the suburbs.

How about comparing parki…

Motorcycles squeeze into urban nooks and crannies

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Parking on the door-step (literally) in Hanoi
The space efficiency of motorcycles is important for many Asian cities.

Traffic engineers usually assume that motorcycles consume about half the road space of a car. In other words, two-wheelers' PCU value is typically given as 0.5 'passenger car units' in heavy traffic.

But motorcycle parking can usually squeeze in many more than two machines per car space.

These Taipei scooters may be an extreme case. How do they get them in and out?
For the forthcoming Asian cities parking study, we found motorcycle parking space norms of up to 10 two-wheelers per car space.
Singapore’s parking standards specify perpendicular car slot dimensions and its minimum and preferred size for motorcycle slots. Together these suggest that between 4.6 and 6 motorcycle spaces take the same area as a car space (Land Transport Authority 2005). In India, motorcycle spaces are a…

More on park-and-ride in dense parts of Asian cities

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I asked the sustran-discuss list for responses to my post on park-and-ride being a bad idea. In response to the discussion so far, I tried to clarify some of my points. Here is an edited version.

1. My objection to park-and-ride is strongest when such facilities are within the dense urban fabric (such as 'inner city' areas).

It is in these dense areas that the opportunity cost of space is highest. Most of the other uses of station-vicinity space will do much more to build public transport ridership than P&R.

Many mass transit systems in developing Asia are, for now, limited to these dense/mixed-use areas. In most cases, they don't yet extend out into the newest 'suburban areas'. P&R seems least defensible in these high-density locations with high property prices. Yet it is still being implemented in various dense urban localities in Asia.

The photos of Bangkok in the previou…

Is park-and-ride a bad idea?

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Park-and-ride facility at Chatuchak, Bangkok
(This one is free-of-charge. And notice the institutionalised double-parking arrangement?)

The idea that car parking should be provided at mass transit stations has taken root in Asia.

The team that helped me investigate parking policy in Asian cities found active park-and-ride programs in Bangkok, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Singapore and Taipei. Park-and-ride facilities have been debated in Ahmedabad and Jakarta for their BRT systems. Delhi wasn't in our study but park-and-ride at Delhi Metro stations has been a hot topic there too.

Interestingly, we found no government-sponsored park-and-ride in the Tokyo region, although there are private parking lots used in this way (without public subsidy) in the outer reaches of the metropolitan area.

I doubt the wisdom of building park-and-ride in dense parts of Asia's cities.

T…

Car-sharing on steroids?

Recent posts by Robin Chase at Network Musings and Dave at Carsharing.US caught my attention for their expansive vision of car-sharing and its reach.

Robin has a broad vision on sharing. It is a theme explored throughout her blog. In a recent post on innovation in transport policy, one of her key suggestions is to:
Allow owners of private vehicles to accept money in exchange for renting out their own vehicle, driving other people in it, or accepting money from people ride-sharing. We need to recognize that sharing cars and maximizing the number of people using each vehicle and getting mobility satisfaction out of each car is vastly preferred over the current single owner status quo.
Dave at Carsharing.US shows that part of Robin's agenda is already happening - under the name 'Peer-to-peer carsharing and car rental'.

His whole post is worth reading but here are a few excerpts:
What is peer to peer carsharing? It's traditional carsharing using privately owned vehicles…

Are parking requirements the solution in Asian cities?

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I left a comment at PT's Parking Blog in response to this John Van Horn item and its first comment.

My comment ended up quite long. I think it is worth cross-posting here.
I have been looking into parking policy around Asia. A report on it should be out next month (with luck).

It is true that Mumbai and Delhi have parking chaos and are now trying to follow the conventional suburban parking policy approach of minimum parking requirements with buildings. Dhaka, with car ownership below 50 per 1000 people, is doing the same. In a situation like that, is it really a good idea to force building managers and all of their customers to subsidize the parking of the tiny elite? So far, it is not working very well (see http://reinventingtransport.blogspot.com/2010/04/parking-dramas-in-south-asian-cities.html). Off-street parking does not magically suck cars off the streets if the streets are easy and cheap to pa…

Tokyo's coin parking lots

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I am planning more posts on the Asian parking study I have been doing. But the technical details and policy debates can wait.

First, some curiosities. A few days ago it was the parking predicament in South Asian cities, such as Dhaka or India's big cities.

Today: Japan's coin-operated parking lots.

Park a car at a coin-operated parking facility and a metal plate automatically rises to trap the vehicle (see photo below). Later, you pay into the machine (with coins, notes or prepaid card) to release the vehicle. No staff required on site.

The photos above are of the same lot in Ueno (central Tokyo). Daytime price: 200 yen for 20 minutes (around US6 per hour) which seems to be the norm in inner Tokyo.

Coin parking is a common use of small vacant lots. And Japanese cities have many small vacant lots (especially since the 1990 property crash).

Some coin-operated parking lots are VERY small.

This one …

Hooray for TRANSIT, Malaysian public transport advocates

I am impressed by the rise of public transport advocacy in Malaysia, especially a group in the Kuala Lumpur metropolitan area called TRANSIT.

I am sure recent Malaysian legislation to set up a Public Land Transport Commission must owe something to TRANSIT's efforts.

Malaysian public transport policy has often been woeful but these reforms look promising. TRANSIT's detailed and critical analysis is a good starting point for understanding the changes. Their website is rich with information on Malaysian urban transport.

For several years now, this energetic group has been persistently pushing for better public transport priority, planning and budgets. Their attention to less sexy issues like regulation and institutional reform is also impressive.

I can see an enormous improvement in the level of public discussion on public transport policy in Malaysia since I lived there in the late 1990s. Much of the credit must go to the advocacy groups like TRANSIT (full name: ‘The Associ…