An app to palliate parking woes

July 15, 2014

How many times have we gone around circles trying to find that prized parking slot for our vehicles? What if there was a way to find out where there is a parking spot ready, or even better, book it in advance?

Pparke, a parking analytics platform, has been recently launched to help parking space providers and owners such as malls, universities, airports, municipal corporations as well as vehicle owners. The concept makes parking as easy as booking a movie ticket online or recharging your phone credit.

The brainchild of Pristech Analytics, founded by the husband-wife duo of Shampa Ganguly, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB), and engineer Pritam Ganguly in August 2013, the company is being incubated at the NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) at IIMB.

Ms. Ganguly explained that the Cloud-based concept – available on the Google Store as an app for download as well as on the Internet – is mainly for parking availability information in any part of the city.

“You pay in advance and reserve a parking slot for yourself. Right now we are charging the same amount as the parking provider charges. Some malls have already registered with us and we have around 200 people using it so far. We plan to do this in schools and offices which are closed on weekends, especially in the heart of the city,” she said.

Not only this, the company is also in talks with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike for partnership, and also with the Traffic Police to implement a card system for pay and park.

Ms. Ganguly also said the app would be applicable to four-wheelers only, as of now, and components such as no parking zones have not been factored in so far.

sources: The Hindu

Guest Editorial: Mr. AV Suraj

September 10, 2010

Dear Readers,

I am glad to be a guest editor of Indian Tollways. During the last few months the highway industry is proud and optimistic with a dynamic new Transport Minister Shri. Kamal Nath.

Below mentioned plans of honorable minister if put into action, possess potential of giving a new lease of life to wide spread Indian road network. Infrastructure development may take a new turn. It seems road sector turnaround story in the making.

Let’s hope for good governance and performance.

  1. Infrastructure sector-Growth Wheel of India: The story of India in the next decade will be the story of Infrastructure. Shri Nath says infrastructure will be the key and defining sector for India in the coming decade as was IT in the 90’s and the present decade.
  2. Topping the priority List: Giving a world class infrastructure to India, has become the top most objective of Government. A well-knit and coordinated road network system plays an important role in the sustained economic growth of a country. Therefore, government’s first priority is rising to the challenge of maintaining and managing high growth through investment in infrastructure sector.
  3. Setting Target: 12,000 km road aimed for the next year, 7000 will be on BOT (Toll basis) and 5000 km will be on annuity and EPC basis.
  4. Feeling the Infra pulse: Transport Minister Mr. Kamal Nath announced that the road and highways section need an investment of around Rs 60,000 crore in the next 3 years.
  5. Passionate Approach: The target of developing 20 km daily would be accomplished by April. We have reached 9 km per day of road construction. To construct 20 km of roads a day or 7,000 km a year, there had to be 20,000 km of work in progress.
  6. Clearing Road Block: NHAI chairman Brajeswar Singh corroborated this saying they are in the process of setting up of 150 special land acquisition units at the project level.
  7. Addressing Bottlenecks: Model Concession Agreement (MCA) is not the Gita or Bible that can’t be amended, Shri Nath added. Govt. assured private developers of fixing all their genuine concerns.The norms are being eased to attract better participation.

The economy seems to be stabilizing soon. Let us pray all goes well and the government kick-starts the good work on fast track and infra upliftment reaches a new high.

I am glad to be part of the online community of the industry and use this as a sounding board for the common issues faced by different concessionaires.

Thanks and Warm Regards
AV Suraj
Sr. Project Manager (BOT -Tolling)

(Mr. AV Suraj has got vast and rich experience in implementation of BOT National Highway Projects. He has also undertaken and supervised various toll and highway traffic management projects, all across India.)

Interview with Mr. Allan Le Roux

October 8, 2009

About Mr. Allan Le Roux:
Mr. Allan Le Roux is one of the most experienced Tolling Engineers in the area of Toll Plaza Design, Equipment Design and Toll Operations in India. He has 20 years experience in Tolling 12 years in his native South Africa and more than 7 years in India; having successfully implemented more than 80 lanes in India.


ITW: Thank you very much for sparing the time for this Interview
ALR: It is a pleasure

ITW: How do you think the Indian road user has taken to the tolling now that it is almost 5-6 years since tolling has been common for the Indian road user?
ALR: Yes I have noticed a few positive items; the motorists are now more willing to pay for a good road and good service than a few years ago. The service delivery is however important and the operator does on occasion create a problem that creates some irritation factor. The operations staff should be trained to deal with the problems and resolve them amicably and in as short a time as possible. The two person collection method per lane that has been adopted on may projects has also started to reduce this streamlines the cash collection process and makes the processing of vehicle quicker.

ITW: What are the biggest challenges that the Concessionaire faces for operating in India and what are the important changes in the Legislature required to make the Tolling operation easier for the Concessionaire.
ALR: That is a difficult question to answer! I think that this does not only apply to Concessionaires in India but around the world, I feel greatest challenge for the Concessionaire is to finish the construction period on time. For every month saved on construction the revenue generated at the Toll Plaza is significant. This revenue is lost for every day that the project exceeds the allocated construction period. There are many problems but I think this is the biggest problem. The second biggest challenge is to improve on the quality of the workmanship on all fronts; this saves a huge amount of money in ongoing routine road maintenance costs. By delaying an overlay for 12-14 months can be very profitable for the concessionaire.

ITW: Do you think projects like Delhi-Gurgaon will eventually go the Free flow way?
ALR: As part of the team that assisted in the development of the Delhi Gurgaon Expressway I think that with the significant traffic that is processed in the toll plaza the option to open a Limited Free Flow option will eventually become a reality. The following problems however exist, Driver attitude to Free Flow may result in the Free Flow lanes becoming “free”.

Enforcement and charging of these “violators” will be mandatory with the “fee” being significantly more than the current toll fee, MCD introduced a charging of 10 times the fee for commercial vehicles that failed to pay the required MCD Commercial Entry Tax and this was a serious deterrent. Legislation would however need to be passed t ensure the Concessionaire can enforce this.

Additional Fees charged for all motorists paying cash in the Non-Stop lanes would also go a long way to reducing the frustration of vehicles fitted with On Board Units. Congestion Charging may also be a solution to be considered.

ITW: Does installation of HTMS field equipments make the expressways safer and ensures smoother operation?
ALR: Yes, some of the HTMS items do add value to any road. HTMS items are numerous, some of them can add a significant benefit to the motorist, the use of Variable Message Systems posted at strategic location on any project can provide important information to the motorists, and Video Incident Detection Systems (VIDS) also assist in the management of incidents. Weather stations can provide information to the control room which can be placed on the VMS to indicate fog, ice, heavy rain etc. The installation of ECB along the entire corridor is probably the least used item, the introduction of the mobile phone has seen to the usage of the ECB declining significantly, in a survey that was conducted it was noted that 98% of all vehicles passing through a particular plaza have a mobile phone, some more than one!! These items are also vandalized for the battery and associated electronics on a regular basis.

ITW: How do you feel to deal with issues like violation of lanes? Should Authoritative power should be given to concessionaires to stop the motorists slipping away.
ALR: I think that not providing the Concessionaire the right to collect and fine the violator is an important step in reducing this type of driver behavior, I think that this should be provided for every Concession Contract.

ITW: Do you think the Indian tolling Industry is open to adopt latest technologies?
ALR: Yes in a limited manner. There is no doubt that good equipment can reduce the loss of revenue in the lane is a fact. That all the Concessionaires are realizing this is another question, yes some of the Concessionaire see the long term value of this and invest in it, technology is however not cheap.

ITW: What has been your negative and positive experience, as far as project implementation in India is concerned?
ALR: Negative experiences, very very few, positive!! Many, being part of the Tolling Industry has been good for me, being a part of Asia’s biggest toll plaza was fantastic. Ongoing development of world class systems, world class toll plazas is also a positive experience for me. And Contributing to the huge positive growth in India has really I think being fantastic for me on a personal front.