Public garages potential solution for parking in Novi Sad – Expensive investments cost-effective in the long term with subsidies
Illustration (Photo: Laszlo66/shutterstock.com)
Drivers in Novi Sad are ready to walk from the garage to their place of residence for 200 to 500 meters, and they find the price of RSD 3,000 for the monthly lease of a parking space in the garage acceptable. When it comes to central city zones, street parking mostly lasts for up to one hour (50%), whereas business is the most common reason for driving to the city's center (around 30% of the cases).
These are just some of the data that urban planners and traffic experts have come up with through research and citizen surveys. The problem of parking in Novi Sad has reached critical proportions in certain parts of the city and should be solved through the construction of parking garages. However, this needs to be done by taking into consideration all the criteria and impact on the surroundings, as well as the basic elements of modern urban planning, the experts of the Novi Sad PE Urbanizam and the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad agree.
For the purposes of the preparation of the General Regulation Plan of the parking garages in the Novi Sad area, the urban planners also performed the Public Garages Analysis, which was presented at the 26th International Urban Planning Salon in Nis. The analysis aims to record and survey all the available capacities for parking and to define necessary capacities.
– We wanted to determine the criteria and classify public garages, that is, parking garages in general. Also, the General Regulation Plan of parking garages in the territory of Novi Sad envisages around 50 locations in total. The concept of development is based on the position that priority conditions should be provided for pedestrians, cyclists and the public transport – Aleksandar Panjkovic, an independent infrastructural planner at Urbanizam, says in his interview for eKapija.
The analysis lists the locations in Novi Sad already designated for the construction of such parking areas by urban plans, but no concrete research has been done so far in order to determine the conditions of the realization of the projects, so that these garages might fit into the surrounding area.
The Novi Sad urban planners also determined through the citizen survey what the acceptable distances to a from the garages are and what the acceptable price is for potential users.
– It has turned out that the citizens in the most critical areas are prepared to walk for around 350 meters from the garage to their place of residence. When it comes to prices, in certain parts of the city, in which so-called tiered garages are planned and where local residents would be paying the price of a monthly lease, we've found that most drivers find the price of RSD 3,000 acceptable, with some even willing to pay slightly more. This is easily understandable considering the fact that those people sometimes look for a parking spot for up to 15 minutes, and the losses in these cases, both in time and everything else, are immeasurable – Aleksandar Panjkovic explains.
The Department of Traffic Engineering of the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad has come up with similar results in its surveys. Professor Zoran Papic says for eKapija that the survey conducted among potential users of public garages has shown that drivers are ready to walk for 5-6 minutes from the parking space to where they're heading to.
– In the center of the city, there are practically no locations for the construction of new tiered garages for local residents, but we have identified several location where public garages could be built, which could partially solve the problem of parking. The survey we've conducted as part of the Novi Sad Smart Plan this June has shown that cars are parked in central city zones mostly for up to one hours, and the capacities are already filled in the early morning hours – Professor Papic points out.
He adds that the data show that the turnover is rather large as well – around 10 vehicles take up the same parking spot in succession a day, and the most common reason (30% of the cases) for parking are business obligations.
Private garages barely cost-effective
The experts of Urbanizam have also talked to the managers of the public garages in Novi Sad, where, according to Aleksandar Panjkovic, there are currently two private, one half-private and one pre-fab (temporary) garage.
– Private garage managers in Novi Sad say that they are barely turning a profit, with capacities 40 to 60% full. However, it seems that they are kind of passive when it comes to promoting or marketing themselves. Still, some of them may have an interest elsewhere, as these facilities feature outlets which turn a profit – eKapija's interviewee says and cites an interesting piece of information that says that these companies enjoy no incentives or reductions from the local self-government, meaning that the City and the municipalities collect taxes just as in other commercial premises.
– We believe that it is necessary to provide certain exemptions for investors, maybe even incentives for the citizens who would park their vehicles there, practically a type of subsidy – Panjkovic says.
Based on an economic analysis of the cost-effectiveness of investments in public garages, the urban planners of Novi Sad have concluded that in the extremely problematic zones, in which there is an increased need for out-of-street parking, public garages of bigger capacities, with over 300 parking spaces, need to be planned. Unlike them, Professor Papic believes that a better solution, at least in central city zones, would be to build a larger number of garages of smaller capacity.
Urban planners also believe that, in order to improve the financial effects of public garages and to realize these projects more easily, it is necessary to plan for a facility to also feature areas for complementary purposes, especially in the part of the garage with an exit to a primary traffic route.
– In this analysis, we've also given recommendations as to how to have fuller capacities, which was around 50% on average in private garages. We've concluded that the garage, as a facility, is a truly expensive investment and that it is a business that can be profitable only in the long term. The cost-effectiveness itself depends on the capacities as well and grows with the number of parking spaces – Aleksandar Panjkovic points out.
Our interviewee also reminds of an important element, which is that “in Novi Sad, each garage is met with resistance from the citizens who believe that such a facility has a negative impact on their everyday life, not just visually, but in its functioning”.
– Sometimes it seems that everybody pictures garages as a place where cars are turned on all the time, polluting the air. We have prepared a graphical presentation of the solution, from the look of the location, 3D models and options for integration into the environment and the surrounding area. With the General Regulation Plan which will proscribe the terms of the development and the construction, we have tried, for example, to include a green roof or partially green surfaces on the topmost tier with a flat roof – Panjkovic discusses potential solutions.
He concludes that, in addition to the environmental effect, garage parking also means security for drivers, less fuel consumption and protection from rain, snow and ice, which is why these solutions, which have been used in developed countries for a long time now, should be implemented as soon as possible.