Skip to main content

Is park-and-ride a bad idea?

[Update: Looking for more parking policy information?  

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.

That statement may shock some readers. Park-and-ride seems to have a halo of virtue and is rarely questioned. After all, doesn't it entice motorists onto public transport who might otherwise drive into congested city cores?

But ask yourself, is this the most cost-effective way to get people into public transport?

Is parking really the best use of space near high-capacity, high-frequency mass transit systems being built in these cities? Is this the best use of precious public funds?


Bangkok MRT park-and-ride structure at Lad Prao and its dense urban context


Proposals for park-and-ride facilities in dense urban contexts should be subject to more scrutiny. In many Asian cities park-and-ride is widely assumed to be a good thing almost by definition. This is a mistake.

The opportunity cost of space near mass transit stations is high. In dense Asian cities it is especially high.

In such contexts it is easy to think of strategies that are almost certainly more effective, less costly and more space-efficient than car parking for commuters:
  • complementary bus service, including feeder buses
  • bicycle park-and-ride [these we do find in Tokyo!]
  • motorcycle-based park-and-ride, and
  • excellent pedestrian environments and links around stations.
So there you have it. I am wary of park-and-ride. I think Asia's planners should be sceptical too.

However, I can think of one kind of high-density neighbourhood which might be suitable for automobile park-and-ride.

If a station area is overwhelmingly residential then park-and-ride can exploit the complementary timing of demand for home-based parking and park-and-ride parking. In other words, park-and-ride might be a cost-effective daytime use of residential parking that would otherwise have low-occupancy in those hours. This kind of park-and-ride would not need expensive purpose-specific facilities. Singapore’s park-and-ride program seems to be an example. Many of its park-and-ride site being located in its HDB public housing estates and are not specially-built as park-and-ride facilities.

Comments

  1. What stations in Seoul have Park-and-Rides? I know that suburban train stations often have parking, especially in new developments. However, I have not seen any in Seoul, and I can't imagine where they would find the space.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Podcasts on urban mobility and urban issues: a LONG list

Below is my increasingly long list of podcasts on urban mobility and/or urban issues. 

If you are not yet a regular podcast listener, you need to download a podcast-listening app to your phone, tablet or desktop and subscribe (it's free) to the podcasts that interest you.

UPDATE 1: This list has many podcasts but obviously I hope you will try mine! They are Reinventing Transport and Reinventing Parking.

UPDATE 2: I have added FOURTY ONE more since this was first published. Thanks to everyone who has sent tips.

Transport-based City Types and their Trajectories

I want to help you get perspective on your city and its transport system with the help of simple city types based on their dominant transport modes, such as Walking Cities, Transit Cities, Bus Cities, Motorcycle Cities and Car Cities.

This way of thinking about cities is a heuristic (an imperfect mental model or technique that is nevertheless good enough to be helpful). And it obviously is imperfect. For example, real cities often have various modes of transport, and modern cities are really all some kind of hybrid city type.

But it is still useful, especially if we add the idea of a Traffic Saturated City, which is a very different beast from a Car City. It is important for change-makers in Traffic Saturated Cities to be aware they are not in automobile dependent cities yet.

Options for digesting this: 
Read the brief article below and study the diagrams. They complement the podcast. For more depth, LISTEN to the 37 minute audio with the player above. A full transcript of the podcast is…

Parking: What's Wrong and How to Fix It

We should stop planning parking the way we plan toilets. I began with that odd (but true) statement to get your attention, obviously. But I am also serious.

Many people think parking policy is boring, which is unfortunate, because boring or not, parking is important.

If you care about cities and urban mobility, you really need to pay some attention to parking.

Most local governments really do plan parking the same way they plan toilets (using minimum parking/toilet requirements) and it is disastrous. More on that below.

Municipalities do this because of another mistake - treating on-street parking as a public good (and therefore failing to manage it properly). Please take note: parking in cities is generally NOT a public good.

These two mistakes cause huge problems:
1. on-street parking problems, which worsen many other mobility and street problems, and  2. a slow-motion disaster of increasingly excessive (but under-used) off-street parking supply which fuels car dependence.

It's …