Abu Dhabi Commercial Centre: Parking Planning Policy

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Parking facility management is a critical component of any transportation system. Typically, vehicles spend more time in parking lots than other places. As the number of vehicles increase, parking spaces become scarce in high demand areas, particularly during peak hours. The topic for investigation was adoption of an Integrated Parking Planning Policy Framework for Abu Dhabi.

The issue of poor management of parking lots in Abu Dhabi Commercial Centre has resulted in many challenges for motorists, commuters, residents and the entire community. In fact, many users spend more than two hours to find available parking spaces within the commercial centre. Parking shortage at the commercial centre is associated with the loss of business opportunities and time wastage for commuters, residents and drivers. Such losses show that parking shortage in commercial centre is a critical issue with detrimental impacts.

The research paper investigated current parking management practices and policies and proposed potential new integrated approaches. Generally, Abu Dhabi has relied on the traditional model of parking facility management that favoured free, abundant parking for motorists. It, however, introduced some reforms to facilitate effective parking facility management. The main objective of this research project, therefore, was to propose an Integrated Parking Planning Policy Framework for commercial centre of Abu Dhabi as a management solution to the problem of inefficient parking spaces.

It is expected that an Integrated Parking Planning Policy Framework for commercial centre of Abu Dhabi will account for efficient use and management of the currently available parking facilities and enhance facility management strategies. In addition, it will also include other best practices in parking facility management.

Outcomes will enhance parking lot efficiency, save costs for commuters, residents, MAWAQiF, drivers, the business community, and improve effective usages for the entire commercial centre.


Drivers, commuters, the business community and residents need to park their vehicles at the end of their journey. Parking facilities, therefore, are integrated components of any transport system. Parking provides unique first experiences to commuters when they reach their destinations. Cities should have convenient and affordable parking spaces to accommodate their residents and commuters.

Parking spaces, however, could also be difficult to get, few, inconvenient or simply expensive to many users. This frustrates many drivers, residents and commuters. In addition, it leads to parking spill over where many motorists park their vehicles in non-designated areas. Consequently, inefficient parking spaces and supply could create serious challengers for residents, motorists, commuters and even the community.

On the other hand, abundant supply of parking spaces could also lead to other challenges. First, parking spaces are extremely expensive to construct and maintain. This results in huge financial burdens on the developers, motorists, city authorities and building occupants and users. Second, parking spaces have environmental costs, may not support planned neighbourhood developments. Third, too much supply of free, uncontrolled parking spaces could encourage driving and leads to poor utilisation of other alternative means of transportation.

This research paper explores the current state of parking spaces in Abu Dhabi and proposes the adoption of an Integrated Parking Planning Policy Framework for Abu Dhabi commercial centre to manage the available parking facilities.

Parking Management

Todd Litman notes that parking management refers to “various policies and programs that result in more efficient use of parking resources” (Litman, 2013, p. 1). Parking management aims to investigate various issues that affect parking planning, costs associated with parking spaces, possible savings from enhanced management, specific parking management approaches and implementation processes, planning and assessment strategies, and focuses on how to develop the best parking management solutions for specific cases.

Parking management solutions, therefore, are cost-effective approaches, which have the potential to lower parking demands by a significant margin and result in economic, social and environmental advantages (Litman, 2013).

The Case of Parking Space Issue at the Commercial Centre of Abu Dhabi

Drivers, commuters, residents and the community of Abu Dhabi understand the issue of insufficient public parking bays in the commercial centre too well. One Thursday morning, Ramona Ruiz reported, “Iqbal Sulaiman, 38, spent two and a half hours circling the block looking for a place to park” (Ruiz, 2013) near LuLu Centre. Consequently, residents, commuters and drivers have “urged MAWAQiF to construct many parking lots in busy residential and commercial areas in which finding a parking space could take more than two hours” (Ruiz, 2013). Meanwhile, residents and drivers have turned to parking on unpaved areas on the sand and along the yellow and grey kerbs, which are illegal activities and attract fines.

Parking is an important element of a transportation system in any city globally. Commuters and residents need to park when they reach their destinations. Typically, vehicles spend much time in the parking lot, which causes high demands for parking spaces in cities. A lack of adequate parking facilities in the commercial centre of Abu Dhabi has resulted in massive economic losses in terms of costs and time for commuters and residents.

Moreover, the Department of Transport Abu Dhabi must handle various parking conflicts, which city designers, planners, operators and other authorities face. In most cases, the two broad categories of these problems are supply and management. Supply challenges indicate few parking spaces available for commuters and residents. Hence, there is a need to build more facilities. On the other hand, management problems show that the available parking spaces are not used efficiently. Thus, they require better management solutions.

The major challenge in the commercial centre of Abu Dhabi has been poor management of parking bays. MAWAQIF is a branch of the Department of Transport’s (DoT) in Abu Dhabi. The division has the sole responsibility of managing and regulating parking services and facilities with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (MAWAQiF, 2014). MAWAQiF, however, does not have an appropriate model of parking facility management. Currently, the division lacks an integrated and a comprehensive parking management approach.

As a result, the commercial centre of Abu Dhabi continues to experience parking bay management challenges and inadequate supplies. An integrated and a comprehensive management of parking facilities could resolve parking management challenging by ensuring innovative solutions and management approaches. This will enhance a better quality of service, mobility, connectivity and transport for residents, drivers, commuters and the entire community of commercial centre of Abu Dhabi. Therefore, an Integrated Parking Planning Policy Framework for Abu Dhabi could solve the problem of insufficient parking lots at the commercial centre of Abu Dhabi.

MAWAQiF faces several issues that relate to parking space management. For instance, the department has not trained its human resources to manage parking bays effectively. Moreover, some of the parking spaces, both designated and unauthorised, lack employees to monitor and regulate parking activities. Still, MAWAQiF needs to develop a single department that can facilitate parking management issues and decision-making. The division must decentralise its activities for effective decision-making.

Current Parking Management Practices at the Commercial Centre of Abu Dhabi

A study conducted by Lee, Rees, and Watten (2010) in San Diego concluded that the city had higher rates of parking space requirements than provided under the smart growth developments. The same case has been experienced in the commercial centre of Abu Dhabi where finding a parking space could take more than two hours. Lee et al. (2010) concluded, “Reduced parking supply rates would be appropriate in this area” (p. 36).

The commercial centre of Abu Dhabi has relied on the traditional model of parking facility management. Such a model emphasise a greater supply of free parking spaces in many locations, which could be poorly utilised. In addition, it fails to account for other factors that affect parking needs other than building size and the required land use in a given area (Engel-Yan and Passmore, 2010).

Consequently, the management approach has encouraged the use of off-street parking. This approach, however, has facilitated quantity or supply of many parking lots rather than quality of managing parking facilities. Abu Dhabi local authority has focused on minimum parking requirements, which often exceed the capacity of the physical landscape and the available space.

Consequently, motorists and residents turn to unattractive parking zones and illegal, non-designated areas, such as on the sand. In addition, MAWAQiF has failed to concentrate on design requirements for parking bays and parking facilities. In most cases, the available parking facilities in the commercial centre of Abu Dhabi have neglected the ideal urban design. As a result, parking spaces have interrupted streetscape and undermined the ease of walking within the central commercial centre.

Ideally, urban planners should not concentrate on providing abundant parking spaces. Instead, they should focus on effective utilisation of the available parking spaces. Such parking spaces have also affected architectural designs and building qualities. In many cases, parking lots have occupied land previously meant for other purposes. In other words, many developers, residents and drivers aim to satisfy parking demands. Many scholars, however, have observed that reducing parking requirements is an ideal approach to parking facility management because it can enhance efficiency and urban design as required by the community (Litman, 2013; Lee et al., 2010; Mukhija & Shoup, 2006).

It is imperative to note that parking spaces for automobiles consume nearly half of the space area for buildings as Manville and Shoup (2005) noted. While the growth in terms of business activities and population in Abu Dhabi commercial centre has provided incentives for the local authority to develop adequate parking facilities, there are no adequate financial resources to undertake such massive projects. Property owners and land developers prefer rental premises rather than providing parking spaces because benefits from developing such facilities to accrue to the local authority and the community.

MAWAQiF’s Public Parking Control

MAWAQiF bears the sole responsibility of regulating both public and private parking spaces in Abu Dhabi. The division lacks a comprehensive and an integrated method of managing the available parking facilities. MAWAQiF, however, has a long-term plan of improving its operations and service provision with the entire Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It intends to introduce “effective and efficient control measures to regulate parking, manage demand and supply, as well as improve road safety and create more harmony within the city by streamlining traffic flow” (MAWAQiF, 2014).

MAWAQiF states that it has achieved efficient and effective control of parking management within the commercial centre where parking controls have been implemented. Many drivers and residents, however, have urged the division to increase parking spaces and manage the available ones effectively (Ruiz, 2013). On this note, the division has increased the number of parking inspectors to facilitate effective and excellence in managing of the available parking facilities. Parking inspectors patrol the commercial centre to ensure that drivers, commuters, residents and the business community do not undermine parking regulations. They are mainly required at all places in which the division has implemented the parking management system.

MAWAQiF notes that the major aim of its parking inspectors is to “offer advice and consultancy to users in order to ensure that they adhere to proper and legal use of parking facilities” (MAWAQiF, 2014). Parking users who violate the guidelines and regulations on usages face certain actions from parking inspectors, which include “issuing Parking Violation Tickets and arranging for car towing if required” (MAWAQiF, 2014).

MAWAQiF’s Private Parking Control

The division is responsible for controlling and monitoring all private parking facilities located in multi-storey buildings to ensure that developers and user adhere to the set guidelines, technical standards and usage instructions (MAWAQiF, 2014). Consequently, MAWAQiF has implemented the following provisions for regulating and monitoring private parking facilities.

First, it inspects all private parking facilities, including underground parking bays. Second, the division issues violation tickets to building owners who do not adhere to regulations and laws that guide parking distribution in the commercial centre. Finally, MAWAQiF also ensures that tenants get parking spaces within the buildings they occupy based on the approved rates.

Parking Rates

Abu Dhabi has implemented parking rates at the commercial centre. Users can park their vehicles for 2 dirhams in certain locations for unlimited period while premium locations are restricted to 4 hours for 3 dirhams.

International Best Practices in Parking Space Management

Paradigm Shift

Many scholars have noted that parking space management has experienced paradigm shift in the recent past globally, particularly in developed countries and emerging ones as they borrow best practices from other countries. This change involves a different approach to the problem of insufficient parking spaces and evaluation of preferred solutions.

The traditional model focused on providing free, abundant parking in many places. It aimed at increasing parking supplies and low costs. The approach assumed that parking bays were for the public good and should almost be plenty and never full. In addition, many assumed that parking costs were included in the costs of buildings while local authorities had the responsibility to maintain and subsidise costs. Still, city destinations had to meet their own parking demands.

On the contrary, the modern paradigm focuses on optimal parking provision with affordable prices to users. The new approach views abundant supply of parking spaces as detrimental and few spaces as harmful to users. In addition, too low prices are also not encouraged while too high prices cause public outrage.

The aim of the new approach to parking facility management is to enhance efficiency in usages. In this sense, there should be no wastage of parking spaces and therefore, they should be full at all times. Moreover, additional parking spaces should be readily available in the nearest locations. Local authorities must identify and address any issues associated with the parking spill over. The new paradigm requires drivers and residents to share parking lots at various locations. It requires users to pay directly their parking charges and offer savings to people who reduce the need for parking spaces.

It is imperative to note that many users will resist any attempts to change parking management practices in a given location. They need a burden of proof on innovative approaches to parking facility management. The shift towards new practices has recognised that land use and the transport systems have changed and continue to evolve and therefore, parking planning and management require continuous improvement. The strategy allows planners and parking managers to try various approaches with the aims of understanding their effectiveness and improve upon them based on specific outcomes.

Best Practices

Best practices in parking facility management require a comprehensive and an integrated parking plan. It must account for parking resources, current challenges, management objectives, programmes and strategies. Such practices require parking management authorities to review parking problems and implement necessary changes as required periodically.

Effective management of parking facilities have promoted programmes that collect data on parking supplies, demand, challenges, pricing and costs. Such data are usually used to enhance parking facility management by incorporating outcomes into an integrated system that guide planning and mapping of locations.

Best practices in parking management focus on the provision of several alternatives to parking supply shortages. Such plans have encouraged strategies that aim to facilitate efficient usages of “available of parking facilities rather than increasing the number of parking spaces” (Litman, 2013). In addition, there should be a comprehensive framework for assessing parking facilities and account for both direct and indirect effects of the transportation system and land use strategies.

Best practices on parking facility management aim to identify several solutions and a combination of approaches. This implies that a single solution to a parking space problem may not yield the desired results on a long-term basis.

Best practices on parking space management encourage low-cost strategies and efficiency in the use of the available parking facilities. This strategy offers user information on parking availability, pricing, shared parking and control practices to enhance the use of many parking spaces and cater for pedestrians with the aim of improving accessibility in most locations.

Effective parking facility management relies on pricing to control demand, maintenance, recover costs and raise incomes for other programmes. Pricing method, however, should be favourable to users and minimise excessive charges, as well as high costs and inconvenience.

Finally, best practices in parking facility management should integrate Smart Growth strategies and other land use plans.

Elements of an Integrated Parking Planning Policy Framework

Understanding elements of an Integrated Parking Planning Policy Framework requires assessment of accessibility, economy, efficiency, environmental impacts and equity to users based on the current management practices (Manville & Shoup, 2005; Daisa & Parker, 2010). Comprehensive parking management strategies could enhance the need for more parking spaces (Lee et al., 2010).

An integrated parking policy model must account for the needs of specific locations, define the scope, problems and develop strategic plan with stakeholders’ contributions (Litman, 2006), effective regulation (Kodransky & Hermann, 2011), implementation and evaluation. A management solution to insufficient parking lots promotes quality of parking rather than its quantity as Mukhija and Shoup observed (Mukhija & Shoup, 2006). In this context, Shoup sees an opportunity to reduce the demand for minimum parking (Shoup, 1995).

A comprehensive and an integrated parking management strategy must account for (1) adequate parking supply; (2) use existing parking capacity more efficiently; (3)address variable demand; (4) reduce parking demand; (5) respond to spill over impacts; and (6) management and design of parking facilities and land use.

The Effects of Parking Issues on Business and Commercial Activities

Parking demand is generally higher within the commercial centre of Abu Dhabi, Tourist Areas and other office blocks. Location, therefore, plays a critical role in determining parking demands. As many people seek for parking spaces in the commercial centre, parking demands increase significantly. This situation leads to inadequate parking spaces in such locations. Since MAWAQiF lacks a comprehensive model for parking space management, there are insufficient parking lots, which have financial and time implications to stakeholders.

A given percentage of people tend to avoid commercial centres because of inadequate parking spaces. As a result, many business owners have attributed parking space inefficiency as detrimental to their businesses. They claim that tourists and other motorists tend to avoid such busy streets. In addition, many business owners claim that their customers complain about a lack of adequate parking spaces within the commercial centre in Abu Dhabi. While many people still go to the commercial centre for various purposes, others have limited their visits to minimise inconvenience.

Other people have complained that restricted parking hours are not adequate to conduct activities within the commercial centre. The situation could be worse for people who require parking spaces during high demand periods. The aim of limiting parking hours within the commercial centre is to encourage access to the business centre and user turnover.

Individuals who have heavy packages and senior citizens have complained of long distances if they have to park their vehicles in far away locations. Consequently, such people tend to avoid the commercial centre too.

People who park their cars in non-designated zones, such as on the sand have also attracted fines from parking inspectors. The city authority considers such actions as offensive. Such individuals, however, lack alternative parking spaces and they, therefore, have requested MAWAQiF to increase the available parking lots within the commercial centre (Ruiz, 2013).

Today, many business owners urge their employees to leave parking spaces for customers. However, this has been a difficult approach for employees since many residents of Abu Dhabi prefer personal cars to public means of transport. As a result, business owners have embarked on employee education to encourage them to embrace other means of transportation. Abu Dhabi aims to encourage the use of public transport rather than driving to work for many individuals who work within the commercial centre (Bureau of Transport Statistics, n.d). It is imperative to note that effective parking space management can assist employees and employees avoid the need for new parking facilities.

According to Tom Keith, the available land space to accommodate parking demands for visitors, residents and commuters greatly affect the value of property in a given location (Keith, n.d). The value may significantly decline if an office block cannot provide adequate parking spaces for patrons. Businesses located in areas with inadequate parking cannot effectively compete with others that provide adequate parking lots for their customers.

As Abu Dhabi transforms to shopping malls and other large retail outlets, many drivers and residents believe that such facilities would provide adequate parking spaces for customers because of large land areas allocated for such facilities, which may not be found within the commercial centre. The commercial centre of Abu Dhabi, however, does not allow customers to find parking spaces easily. Consequently, many drivers must circle buildings for several hours to gain access to available parking spaces.

Best Modules and Solutions to solve the Current Parking Shortage and Issues

The best modules and solutions should ensure that residents of commercial centre of Abu Dhabi have adequate parking facilities. There are flexible approaches to parking space management. They can align parking space needs with the actual demands in specific locations. These flexible approaches, however, are difficult to enforce (Engel-Yan and Passmore, 2010). City developers must focus on long-term policy objectives in order to provide effective solutions to parking space challenges. Long-term strategies require entirely different approaches. An integrated approach that incorporates several methods to parking facility management in the commercial centre of Abu Dhabi can offer the best management solution to the problem of parking space shortages.

Increase Parking Supply

Although many residents have called upon MAWAQiF to increase parking supplies in the commercial centre and other areas with high demands, particularly during peak hours, this is has not been the best approach to parking shortage management since it is a supply approach. Nevertheless, MAWAQiF must increase parking spaces after thorough reviews of several factors that influence demands in specific locations.

Use Existing Parking Capacity More Efficiently

This research has focused on the use of existing parking facilities in commercial centre of Abu Dhabi as a management approach to solve the issue of parking space shortages. The approach includes the following strategies.

Provide Parking Information to Users

Many drivers lack information on parking space availability and pricing. It is, therefore, necessary for MAWAQiF to provide parking space information through various means, such as brochures, Web sites, maps and other modes of communication. Moreover, the division should offer, “real time information to motorists on locations with available parking spaces” (Davis, n.d). This is a cost-effective approach to some of the parking space challenges in commercial centre of Abu Dhabi.

It enhances user awareness, flexibility and quick responses. Motorists will no experience delays or frustration as they attempt to find available parking spaces in busy areas. In addition, it would enhance user satisfaction at minimum costs. MAWAQiF must prepare to incur costs associated with this strategy. In addition, it must improve on generating real-time data to meet the needs of many motorists, residents and commuters.

Encourage Use of Remote Parking

MAWAQiF should encourage many people to use remote parking spaces. The method entails encouraging commuters and residents to adopt the use of off-site parking facilities. It involves provision of information and effective regulation and pricing strategies to facilitate the use of fringe parking facilities on a long-term basis. Local authorities may also introduce free transit zones and shuttle services alongside pedestrians’ facilities for enhanced accessibility to parking bays.

The use of remote parking facilities offers quick and affordable means of reducing parking shortages within the commercial centre. However, this method may not be successful because of inconvenience to many motorists, commuters and residents. User may also incur extra costs associated with shuttle services.

Regulate Parking

MAWAQiF can control several aspects related to parking facility management to achieve its transportation and efficiency objectives with the commercial centre. It should control the maximum time a given vehicle can take in a specific parking location. This strategy would encourage usability, turnover and accessibility for many motorists. For instance, it can set a time limit of two hours for shoppers.

The division can also regulate users. MAWAQiF can control the kinds of vehicles that may use some parking facilities, such as large delivery vehicles, public service vehicles and personal cars among others. In addition, it can minimise on-street parking of large vehicles to facilitate traffic flow and discourage the use of certain areas as long-term parking zones. Regulation should also control on-site parking, particularly during rush hours and peak periods to provide adequate traffic lanes. This shall ensure that only preferred motorists and vehicles use certain locations for parking purposes. Moreover, it reduces costs and facilitates usability of the available parking resources because it can be easily implemented. Parking inspectors must be assertive to ensure the success of this approach.

Pedestrian Improvements

This involves increasing paths, shortcuts, crosswalks and sidewalks for pedestrians. It may also include addressing security situations that may deter users from embracing some modes of transportation. The New Urbanist theory aims to create cities with user-friendly experiences. Pedestrian improvements can enhance the use of parking facilities to meet specific needs of commuters and create safe environments for users. This is also a mode of alternative transport for many people. Pedestrian improvements, however, require considerable investments, land resources and effective implementation.

Shared Parking

An integrated parking facility management also involves shared parking. This approach involves sharing of parking spaces among several motorists. Users can share a given parking zone if they can get other alternative strategies such as commute trip reduction. This would ensure that groups instead of an individual use the available parking spaces. There could also be incentives to share parking lots. For instance, individuals with shared parking lots should pay less relative to others with assigned parking lots. Hence, there are savings associated with the use of shared parking lots. Consequently, many employees will opt for shared parking facilities.

Off-site parking spaces can also enhance shared parking strategy to alleviate shortages at the commercial centre. For instance, various buildings in a given location can rely on different peak hours to facilitate usability of available parking spaces. For instance, office blocks need parking spaces during weekdays while shopping malls require increased parking spaces during weekends. Consequently, this strategy can reduce parking space requirements by a significant margin relative to standard off-street parking demands for every location.

Public Parking or In Lieu Fees

Shoup noted that “developers or building owners could be allowed or required to pay in-lieu fees that fund public parking facilities as an alternative to minimum requirements for private off-street parking” (Shoup, 1999, p. 549). This is a cost-effective method of meeting parking demands within the commercial centre. This strategy may need additional management and enforcement approaches. In addition, it might be inconvenient to motorists due to extra charges. The strategy could be difficult to implement during peak periods.

Access Management

This strategy refers to enhanced management between roadway design and land use to lessen certain traffic problems. It focuses on changing vehicle-based strip development into rather a grouped development with reduced driveways and increased pedestrian sections between one location and another. This facilitates the adoption of shared parking and increased travel options for users.

It may cause effective utilisation of parking facilities and offer other advantages, such as reduced congestion and vehicle crashes, increased transportation options, highly improved approach to land use and streetscape improvements.

While access management offers certain benefits to stakeholders, it needs functional management approaches and enforcement strategies. In addition, it could result in additional costs on local authorities, users and businesses.

Accuracy in and Flexibility in Providing Parking Requirements

This strategy entails providing “minimum parking needs that more accurately reflect a site’s parking demand, taking into account specific geographic, demographic and management activities” (Kodransky & Hermann, 2011). For instance, minimum parking requirements could be higher in many vehicle-oriented areas relative to other sites that are readily accessible and have parking charges.

Abu Dhabi current parking standards tend to highlight parking demands in vehicle dependent, city sites with highly encouraged free or cheaper parking rates, which tend to be abundant in certain locations with improved movement and travel choices, mixed land use or priced parking. Generally, the land use strategies affect transportation systems. However, an effective approach should show methods that can predict possible land use patterns and transportation management challenges in order to can reduce parking demands in certain locations.

MAWAQiF must acknowledge that special attention and effort may be needed to develop changeable parking needs that meet political and administrative needs of various stakeholders. First, it is necessary to consult all stakeholders to identify certain concerns related to parking requirements in certain locations. Second, the division will have to implement standard approaches to assess the minimum parking requirements at a particular location based on scientific research methodologies.

Third, MAWAQiF may need to introduce “parking brokerage services so parking spaces with excess parking capacity can sell, lease or trade it for other services” (Litman, 2013) that other stakeholders may need. This allows all resident to take advantage of flexible parking conditions to reduce parking demands in specific locations. Fourth, it is necessary to introduce new methods of assessing results and correct spill over challenges or increased future demand of parking spaces. For instance, there could be a policy that if a lower level of parking supply proves ineffective, then MAWAQiF will have to develop other parking spaces and enhance strategies of parking facility management for various users.

This method of parking facility management is highly flexible and encourages the use of accurate approaches that reflect demand at a particular location. However, it means that MAWAQiF must adopt new planning and administrative strategies alongside other responsibilities since it requires effective implementation to reduce abuse and inconsistent usages.

Control Use of Parking Passes

There are control passes that allow drivers to gain access to certain parking locations. These passes, however, are often not effectively used or controlled. For instance, many drivers use their parking passes for personal and other usages other than official business usages. The aim of controlling parking pass cards is to reduce inappropriate usages of parking facilities, particularly in high demand locations. This method entails introducing written provisions, which specifically show that people may get complementary parking passes based on specific terms of use.

Individuals who are responsible for issuing parking card passes should also learn about costs associated with such passes to an institution. It is imperative to limit the number of card for each agency or group to avoid misuse. Moreover, parking facilities can be provided to specific users with restricted time and access frequencies. For example, a parking pass may only be allowed for the specific assigned car and should not be transferred to other vehicles. In addition, an organisation should review distribution and usages of its pass cards regularly. For example, it should limit ownership to once a year and reissue cards to other users.

Controlling the use of access cards lessens inefficient and unfair use of parking pass cards. In addition, it may assist in reducing constant demand for parking spaces in a given location. On the other hand, controlled parking passes may be ineffective in enhancing utilisation because it could be difficult to ensure maximum utilisation of the available parking spaces. They also have extra costs associated with monitoring and enforcement.

Employers may also convince their employees to stop driving to work and adopt other modes of transportation. This strategy is effective parking management solution since employees’ cars spend much time at the parking lots than any other vehicles. This strategy, however, requires a stronger incentive to persuade employees to embrace other modes of transportation.

An integrated and comprehensive parking policy framework also account for other parking management strategies other than enhanced efficiency in usages of the available parking facilities. For instance, the approach also includes the above-mentioned parking facility management strategies. Thus, MAWAQiF must account for them in its new approach to parking space management.

Automated Parking Management Solutions

The traditional model of parking facility management requires parking attendants to keep constant watch over vehicles in parking bays. This, however, is a tedious and tiring exercise (Davis, n.d). Many technology companies have considered such a manual and physical presence of parking attendants as a source of major concern that can lead to poor parking space management. As a result, they have developed automated parking facility management solutions. In addition, such automated parking management solutions have advanced security systems to ensure maximum safety and efficiency in parking bays.

MAWAQiF can adopt automated parking management solutions to enhance efficiency, eliminate anti-social behaviours between parking attendants and drivers. Some of the available parking management solutions offer other services too. For example, software based parking management solutions have significant roles in ensuring that many commuters and drivers do not have to face challenges associated the lack of adequate parking facilities. Such software solutions can control various types of vehicles irrespective of their sizes or functions. They have an interface, which has access control features to reduce eliminate unauthorised accessibility. A combination of surveillance systems and software solutions ensure that parking lots are safe for users.

A complete automated system for parking lot management offers a high-resolution camera for controlling access and matching vehicle numbers and their users. In addition, users must obtain pass tickets at the gate and authenticated by security or parking attendants.

If implemented, MAWAQiF would use data obtained from its automated solutions to understand various patterns related to parking issues. The division should be able to analyse such data and gain insights for specific activities as shown by user behaviours and patterns of usages. Such data may be useful for predicting future demands for parking facilities in specific locations.

The system can provide traffic rates and manage parking facilities on real-time basis by recognising the parking capacity and the available number of vehicles. Within few minutes, parking inspectors would be able to check and know parking availability in different locations within the commercial centre. This would allow them to control parking and direct motorists to other areas.

The division can improve efficiency by adopting robust automated parking solutions with multitasking capabilities to take complete control of the parking lot and vehicles. Moreover, MAWAQiF can define its specific needs and get a customised automated solution that meets unique characteristics of commercial centre of Abu Dhabi. In other words, such an automated solution can control parking bays in an uninterrupted way. Such systems should aim to improve user experiences, service provision and streamline operations issues for the division. In fact, it can also aid in decision-making processes.

Today, MAWAQiF has introduced online services for resident permit renewal and payment of fines. It has facilitated and improved parking fine collection, minimised human interaction and renewal of permits. However, online services are not automated solutions. It is imperative to note that automated parking solutions aim to eliminate previous challenges associated with the traditional ways of parking facility management.

Tactics to enforce the public to adhere to the parking regulations and laws, and change the public behaviours and attitude with regard to parking

It is necessary to recognise that implementing change in parking lot management practices and procedure could be a difficult undertaking for MAWAQiF. Consequently, there should be clearly defined approaches of enforcing and changing public behaviours and attitudes towards new parking policies.

People are the major determinants of change outcomes. The traditional model of parking facility management has always emphasised abundant, free parking spaces for the public good. This process requires improved enforcement of the available regulations and bylaws as provided by Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Effective enforcement ensures that users adhere to the required parking bylaws. Many motorists prefer to park their cars on the sand, which is an illegal practice.

Therefore, it is necessary to have adequate parking inspectors to enforce parking regulations and ensure compliance in order to achieve the desired outcomes. Parking inspectors must be fair, consistent and frequent as they strive to eliminate negative practices in parking facility management. In addition, it is imperative to provide adequate user information, signs and notices for drivers, commuters and residents about parking facilities. Such information should carry charges, penalty and punishment in case of violation.

MAWAQiF must ensure that its parking inspectors are professional and courteous as they provide information and assistance to people who have different parking issues. Fines should be relatively high enough to enforce the preferred parking behaviour, but must not be considered as punitive and excessive.

The division should establish and use commercial centre design “best practices” to control development in the commercial district in a way that account for the relevance of parking lots to the overall quality and success of Abu Dhabi community. It is believed that effective urban design will enhance parking and reduce the belief that commercial centres do not require parking bays.

Planning will result in effective utilisation of land and its value for commercial property. Optimised land use encourages mixed use, multi-storey development with on-site parking facilities and adequate pedestrians’ provisions.

There should be performance-oriented approaches to parking space management. Building owners must also focus on providing alternative parking solutions to their tenants. It should encourage continuous retail commercial street developments and streetscape aesthetics for pedestrians. In addition, parking lots require access lane and lane bridging to facilitate accessibility and efficiency in parking lots.

Parking spaces should focus on public safety. Residents tend to avoid certain locations because of incidents of crime and car thefts. Effective design and management can reduce such cases.

The city authority should review bylaws and ensure that new buildings within the commercial centre provide adequate parking spaces for their tenants and visitors. Zoning and loading bays should be adequate for large vehicles to avoid parking shortages and inconvenience for other users.

The commercial centre should focus on public education, provision of relevant information and campaigns to inform the mass about parking practices in the city. Individuals can get relevant information on pricing, availability, penalty and punishment for parking space bylaws violations.

People will also adopt new parking facility management approaches if there are incentives. For instance, MAWAQiF and employers can introduce favourable charges to employees who use their cars at certain periods, adopt shared parking or use other modes of transportation.

MAWAQiF is a single organisation that concentrates on parking facility management. The division should review current parking practices within the commercial centre and improve on them. This process requires conduct market research to incorporate stakeholders’ view in the new systems. The organisation should ensure that users have the best services and gain access to facilities that will create positive experiences. This would enhance utilisation, change in behaviours and support for the new systems.

The Expected Outcomes from an Integrated Parking Planning Policy Framework

Generally, management solutions will enhance parking lot efficiency and save costs and time to drivers, commuters and residents. The main business reason for pursuing the project is to ensure that there are adequate parking lots for Abu Dhabi commuters and residents. The outcome would provide both short-term and long-term benefits in terms of time and cost saving for residents, the business people, commuters and drivers.

The project will address root causes of a shortage of parking space in Abu Dhabi and provide relevant recommendations. In addition, it will ensure that Abu Dhabi develops a framework and legislative guides that ensure effective use of parking spaces, control land use in the city centre and regulate both public and private parking practices. Appropriate management strategies of parking facilities ensure that the provided guidelines are effectively implemented and adhered to by users. The city authority would maximise parking charges to enhance effective utilisation of high demand parking zones, but MAWAQiF must not impose excessive charges on users.

An integrated parking facility management can increase the number of parking beneficiaries in any given location by introducing and controlling city residents’ parking zones (Litman, 2013; MAWAQiF, 2014). This plan also aims to foster collaboration among various stakeholders such as city development experts to ensure effective use of the commercial city centre and increase the number of parking zones in the identified high demand areas, such as Tourist Club areas and office districts.

Effective utilisation of the available parking locations can increase traffic turnover and flow in the commercial centre of Abu Dhabi and encourage maximum utilisation of underground parking spaces and other alternative parking zones. Bylaws and new regulations will ensure that new buildings have adequate parking zones for residents, visitors and occupants.

MAWAQiF also requires automated parking management solutions for efficiency, cost saving and real time decision-making purposes.

This research project has proposed effective methods of utilising the available parking spaces and identifying high demand zones for constructing new parking areas as viable options for improving parking facility management. This would enhance efficiency in the commercial centre of Abu Dhabi for motorists, drivers, residents and the entire community. In addition, MAWAQiF will be able understand root causes of the shortage of parking space in the commercial centre and propose solutions for the identified issues.


There is a severe shortage of parking facilities in Abu Dhabi commercial centre. This situation has resulted from inadequate supply as well as poor management of the available ones. Currently, Abu Dhabi lacks an integrated model for parking facility management. Consequently, it continues use traditional approaches.

There is a paradigm shift as the local authority aims to develop an integrated parking management system and adopt the use of automated systems in some locations to enhance efficiency and make a better quality of service, mobility, connectivity for users.

This research paper has proposed the adoption of an Integrated Parking Planning Policy Framework for Abu Dhabi as a management solution that would lessen some serious challenges associated with inefficient parking facility management. This approach of managing parking facility is highly effective since it does not focus on increasing parking supplies but rather managing them for maximum utilisation.

It is imperative to note that changing parking practices in Abu Dhabi may face resistance from other users. Thus, MAWAQiF and other stakeholders must collaborate to find the best solutions for all.


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