A magazine article caught my attention the other day. A candidate for councilor of Quezon City, the largest city among the units comprising Metro Manila, mentioned that the candidate was against pay parking and that if elected will oppose all initiatives for pay parking in public places in the city. Further, the candidate made statements to the effect that free parking for churches, markets and schools should be guaranteed by the government.
While I am tempted to trash the candidate for being moronic in his/her view of such issues as parking fees, I will resist such temptation. Instead, I offer here my arguments “for” pay parking and let the reader assess for himself/herself if a stand against parking fees could hold water. First off, allow me to trace the origins of this issue. I believe it was last year when a local bill was filed at the Quezon City Council seeking to charge parking fees for parking slots constructed by the Quezon City government along major streets including Tomas Morato. If my recollection is correct, the parking spaces were part of a bigger project that also constructed decent sidewalks along the same streets. It is important to note here that these were projects funded by local funds and therefore were sourced from taxpayers money. It should also be noted that among the justifications for the project were the expected alleviation of congestion along the roads, considering that there was a propensity for on-street parking or waiting, and the lack of sidewalks have resulted in pedestrians also using the carriageway.
One aspect of the problem that was rarely if ever it was mentioned was the fact that the parking spaces were constructed in high activity areas where establishments failed to provide an adequate number of spaces for their customers or clients. Many of these are restaurants and shops (e.g., the ones along Morato) while there are also examples of schools and churches. I say “failed to provide” here because it is quite obvious to even the untrained observer that establishments like restaurants and bars attract many people. In the case of those along Morato, the people attracted are most often the ones who have cars. When you attract a lot of cars and do not have the spaces for them to park along, it doesn’t take a genius (or even a 6th grader) to arrive at the conclusion that there will be traffic congestion in the area. Such congestion is the result of cars being parked almost anywhere where there is open space and that includes part of if not an entire lane of the road.
[Next: Trip and parking generation concepts]