Visitors to shopping malls in Chennai, India can book a parking slot ahead of time via a Web site or mobile phone app, thanks to local startup uPark.
The company was founded in 2011 by Shyam Ramachandran and Rajesh Subramanian to help users plan their time better, according to a report by TechGig.com.
The best part is that this service is free for consumers for now.
uPark receives 1 rupee (US$ 0.02) to 2.5 rupees (US$ 0.05) per vehicle in each mall. Moving forward, uPark plans to charge 30 rupees (US$0.55) for each advance booking and is also in the process of launching a single use card that can be used at different malls and parking spots in a city. Currently, uPark is only available in Chennai with plans to expand to other Indian metros.
I can personally say from personal experience this is an innovative feature to have, either for booking in advance and especially if you are a driver on the go. Parking is a scarce commodity in Indian metros, both residential and especially commercial. In some cases, parking lot attendants inflate the price for parking for personal gain and even police officers will take a bribe for premium parking spots, and simply look the other way.
In some cases, parking lot attendants inflate the price for parking for personal gain and even police officers will take a bribe for premium parking spots, and simply look the other way.
With uPark, all parking attendants at malls that have partnered uPark are provided with a handheld device, which they use to feed in real-time data on availability.
The ability to check the availability of parking spots in advance could help alleviate congestion and traffic jams near shopping malls and commercial areas. If uPark were integrated in the future with traffic regulation software, as already in place in New Delhi, this could finally lead to free-flowing traffic.
India has approximately 130 million vehicles on its roads, with about 2.7 million cars being added each year. The parking woes in India are only going to get worse, more so as there is no organized industry or policy framework in the country.
The country also has one of the lowest public parking rates in the world, yet, multi-storey parking facilities are a luxury as they are not mainstream. The ones that are also come at a premium price too.