If Ben Folds says it, we believe it. City officials do, too.
In an already cramped city, with narrow roads and not much in the way of open space, where to put the tens of thousands of cars that get added to our population every year? It seems the only way to go is down. A story in today’s Shanghai Daily say the city plans to build “thousands of new underground parking spots” by major subway stations by 2010. A common complaint amongst Shanghai’s driving elite is the lack of downtown parking, and many think the lots that do exist are too expensive — about RMB 10 per hour on average.
According to the Shanghai Daily, the plan is to have 60 percent of Shanghai’s parking underground by 2010. Supposedly, that figure stands at 50 percent now — but Shanghaiist can’t recall the last time we saw a decent-sized above ground lot downtown.
The city plans to build underground lots near 17 subway “hubs,” including Jing’an Temple Station, Wujiaochang Station, Shanghai South Railway Station, Hongkou Football Stadium Station and Century Avenue Station. The idea is to have 100 to 300 spots near each station, so drivers could park and ride, thus clearing up downtown streets. Sounds good in theory — and as a downtown dweller, Shanghaiist would like to see such things happen — but aren’t cars status symbols in Shanghai? Isn’t one of the main reasons people buy them so they don’t have to use public transport?
The story says that Shanghai currently has “more than 1,300 parking lots with 110,000 spots in total.” This figure seems strikingly low, when you realize that the number of private cars in Shanghai was estimated to be 200,000 … in 2003. (This story — from way back in 2002 — put the total number of automobiles in Shanghai at 1.2 million.) The Shanghai Daily says 20,000 to 25,000 new vehicles arrive on Shanghai’s streets every year. It could be worse — Beijing added 147,000 new cars in the first five months of 2005, increasing the city’s car population to 2.41 million.
The story also tells us other things that are supposed to happen in Shanghai by the magical year 2010:
- Shanghai’s subway system will cover 410 kilometers, up from the current 94 kilometers
- A citywide parking lot information platform will enable drivers to reserve a parking spot or check for vacant lots by cell phone or the Internet
- Drivers will be able to pay parking fees with public transportation cards