What are the hidden costs? The Centre for Science and Environment and its chief Sunita Narain have come up with a whole bunch of them; Swaminathan Aiyar's column in today's ToI has a nice summary of their work. Here's one of the hidden costs:
... [C]ars impose high social costs by occupying parking space. Residential space in Delhi sells for Rs 1.5 lakh per square yard in most localities. So a parking lot 100 yards long and 20 yards wide has a social cost of Rs 30 crore. A single parking space of 23 sq m has a social cost of Rs 37.8 lakh. A car occupies more space than an office desk, yet the desk space pays full commercial rent while parking space costs just Rs 10 per day.
This is a huge, unwarranted subsidy, especially to those who keep their cars parked all day. In New York or Washington DC, parking costs $9 (Rs 400) per hour. CSE's efforts to raise the parking rate to Rs 120/day in Delhi were kayoed by the middle class and politicians. The parking space occupied by cars is estimated by CSE at 11% of Delhi's area, as much as all its parks put together. That is a measure of the social cost.