This is a subject of interest to anyone who drives or considers driving to Bonifacio Global City.
In a recent article in Philippine Star, officials of BGC declared that there is no shortage of parking (space) in BGC. One of the officials said that “We designed the city in such a way that, from any point within the city center, there is parking for you five to 10 minutes away. The problem is that people don’t want to walk.”
“The building code of the Philippines requires all building developments to provide one slot per 100 square meters of development floor area. In BGC, all buildings are required to provide more than that – one parking slot per 70 square meters.” The free BGC App (on iOS and Android) educates and helps “motorists easily find the nearest available parking area through real-time information.” Another official stated that there are 5,000 public-access parking spots within the city center, and that BGC officials are still looking at growing that number."
Do you agree with their statements? We wanted to keep an open mind, and did some looking around by ourselves.
Getting the Right Numbers
Are there enough parking spaces in BGC so that any driver currently waiting in a long line for a parking space outside a parking lot in BGC actually can park his / her car right away if only he /she is willing to park some where else nearby?
We downloaded the free BGC App on our Android phone, and on March 1, went to look at some of the parking spaces covered by the App.
Actually, our interest in this matter was triggered by an inquiry on our Facebook page about the parking rate at Gallery Parkade. Someone asked us if the parking rate was still applicable. We wondered why.
Photo: The display at 7th Avenue correctly showed that no parking space is available at Gallery Parkade
We arrived at the entrance of Gallery Parkade at around 2:30pm on that Thursday and found the parking lot full, with orange cones placed outside its entrance. We went to the cashier on foot, and checked that indeed the parking rates were still the same as shown in our article on parking. Gallery Parkade has a flat rate of P100 if you enter between 6am and 10am. Outside these hours, the rate is P40 first 4 hours, and P10 per hour there after. It has 481 parking slots.
Both the parking information display (PID) at 7th Avenue and the BGC parking app showed the correct information: there was zero parking space available.
We then went to look at the other parkades. The (PID) at 7th Avenue did not provide any data for these parkades. When we looked at the entrances of these parking lots, we saw some cars waiting to park in each of these parking lots. It seems that the parking lots were not full, but we could not ascertain the correct number of available slots.
Photo: Parking information Display at 7th Avenue.
While the PID at 7th Avenue did not provide the numbers, we felt that we could not rely on the numbers shown on the BGC parking app also. In the case of Three Parkade where there was a PID right outside the parking lot, the number of slots available shown was very different from the number shown on the BGC parking app. We suspect that the number shown right outside Three Parkade is more accurate. The other parkades (One Parkade, Two Parkade and Gallery Parkade) did not have a PID outside the parking building.
Photo: The PID outside Three Parkade showed only 15 parking slots left, while the app showed a much larger number of 945 slots.
In the same afternoon, we noticed that there were parking spaces available at Crescent North parking lot, which is located at Rizal Drive and used to be a very popular parking lot. Since the parking rate was raised last year to P50 for first three hours, and P50 per succeeding hour, the long waiting line disappeared.
Long line of cars can be seen nearly at all times of the day outside 31st West Parking Lot across the Net Plaza building. The parking rate there is P35 for first 3 hours, and P10 per hour thereafter.
Types of Parking Lot Users
In our view, there are basically two major groups of parking lot users. One group are those who come to BGC for a short visit, such as a business meeting or to shop or dine. For this group of drivers, most of the parking lots have the same rate since they only park for a few hours.
Then the other group are people who work in offices in BGC. BGC, being a central business district with a large number of business process outsourcing companies, has a large number of white collar employees who are paid well enough to own a car. However, even if they are well paid, not many can afford the high parking rate of P50 per hour after the first three hours that some of the parking lots in BGC are charging. A full day of 9-hour parking will cost P240 at One Parkade or Two Parkade, and multiply that by 20 days a month, it costs nearly P5,000 for parking per month, quite a large sum to spend on parking even for people earning P60,000 per month.
Hence, many drivers have to move their cars to a different parking lot after the first few hours, so as to lower their parking bill. Hence the existence of services like Fetch valet parking and Dibz.
Gallery Parkade is clearly the favorite of people driving to work in BGC. It charges a flat rate of P100. No wonder that it is full most of the time. Second favorite are those that have a low rate after the first few hours, like those classified as green parking lots and shown in our article or map on parking. There is always a long line of cars outside these parking lots. For drivers waiting outside these parking lot, there is inadequate parking space in BGC.
We see that there are available slots in the more expensive parking lots, which probably means that most drivers who come to BGC for a few hours can find parking space. We may infer this to mean that, for casual visitors, there is adequate parking facility in BGC.
However, we also see long lines outside parking lots near Bonifacio High Street at certain times of the day and at weekend, such as Central North parking lot next to Central Square, even though there is parking space available in nearby parkades. Maybe the owners really do not want to walk, or they have drivers who can spend the time waiting in line for parking.
How Many Do We Need?
The above commentary is of course a simple analysis. It is also not complete as we did not visit all the parking lots in BGC.
The more complicated, but important question to ask is: what is the right number of parking spaces for BGC to provide for these two groups of users? There are many factors to consider. If we provide more parking spaces in BGC so that no one has to wait long for a parking space, will we be increasing the vehicular traffic to BGC and worsen the traffic congestion? However, with the lack of good mass transit system, not providing 'enough' parking space will mean higher cost on the employees, and reduce the pool of people willing to work in BGC. This is clearly undesirable for the companies located in BGC.
Therefore, in order for one to assess correctly whether there are sufficient parking spaces in BGC, one should ask the human resources department of major BPO companies how much the availability of parking facilities affects, if at all, the consideration of qualified candidates when given a job offer.
For casual visitors, maybe all we need is to provide them with more information on alternative parking lots in the vicinity since they are not familiar with the area, and do not realize that there are available parking slots nearby. Covered walkway may have to be installed to make these alternative parking lots attractive even during rainy days.