Parking policy in Asian cities: an Overview

Here are highlights from the Asian Cities Parking Study that I mentioned before.

Although the final report is still under review, I gave this presentation in late May in Manila at the ADB Transport Forum 2010.

The presentation was based on a study commissioned by ADB under RETA 6416: A Development Framework for Sustainable Urban Transport - Parking Policy in Asia: Status, Comparisons and Potential. I am grateful to many people for their help with this large study.

The cities in the study were:
  • Ahmedabad and Dhaka in South Asia
  • Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo in East Asia, and
  • Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Singapore in Southeast Asia.

Here is a summary of the presentation.

First I outlined a framework for thinking about parking policy choices. It contrasts Conventional approaches (parking as ancillary infrastructure for buildings, hence parking requirements) with Parking management approaches (parking as a tool for wider policy goals) and Market-based approaches (parking as a real-estate based service).

Then I presented some selected results:
  • Comparisons of minimum parking requirements at commercial buildings (on average) by putting them into perspective relative to approximate car ownership
  • Highlighting that several cities exempt small buildings from requiring parking
  • Comparisons of the highest on-street parking prices found in each city and their use (or not) of time limits 
  • Some survey result highlights, such as: where people park at shopping/entertainment destination (eg on-street, on-premises, etc); the proportion paying for parking (as % of respondents parking for each purpose); and the average work-based parking prices paid by survey respondents. 

I also used 2009 Colliers International data to compare CBD parking prices with CBD Grade A office rents (on a rent per square meter basis). The results are interesting.

I then mentioned an argument that parking enforcement best practices do make a difference (such as delegating this to professionals).

I argued that Japan's proof-of-parking policy is important.

I highlighted that the survey results in several cities revealed significant amounts of priced off-street parking (both private and public sector) outside of destination premises. This was most significant in Beijing, Taipei, Hanoi, Hong Kong and (apparently) Tokyo.

I raised concerns that several cities have price controls over private sector parking (Beijing, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Jakarta).

I expressed surprise that the use of parking policy for travel demand management (TDM) is surprisingly rare in Asia (Seoul is the main exception). 

I argued that there seem to be several distinct parking policy trajectories in Asia:
  1. Parking requirement enthusiasts : Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila. South Asian cities seem headed this way.
  2. TDM cities with surprisingly conventional parking policy: Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore
  3. (Inadvertent) Market-fostering : Tokyo
  4. An intermediate path : Taipei, Beijing and Guangzhou and (perhaps) Hanoi.

I made some (slightly speculative) policy arguments at the end: 
  • Fear of chaotic on-street parking is a key motivation for requiring parking in real estate developments
  • BUT plentiful off-street parking provides no guarantee of orderly on-street parking
  • Solving on-street parking problems requires on-street parking management, not necessarily off-street supply expansion.
  • On-street parking chaos is not proof of a shortage
  • Pricing is widespread in Asian cities, especially in East Asia 
  • A surprising proportion of parking is free-of-charge (or cheap) even in cities with high property prices 
  • Price controls on private-sector parking are unwise 
  • Government-subsidized parking is a highly regressive and unwise use of taxpayers’ resources 
  • Parking requirements seem an easy option but are problematic. Audacious to think that we can predict parking demand of buildings for decades 
  • Constraint-focused parking policy deserves wider application but faces political and practical barriers in many cities 
  • Multi-objective parking management has much to offer and deserves much wider application 
  • ‘Park-once neighborhoods’ (most parking in shared public parking with market-prices) are already common and are highly relevant to Asian conditions. They could provide a useful focus for ‘market-oriented’ parking policies.

These policy implications near the end are a little speculative and don't follow obviously from the data in the earlier slides. They are based on the wider findings, on the data in the study, on my wider research on parking, and on arguments advanced in the study report itself (out later this year I hope).

  A parking meter in Guangzhou.
It serves two spaces and accepts only contactless card payment.