The government has frozen car parking fees for almost 5,000 car parking spaces across a dozen major car parks until 31 May 2021, citing the pandemic’s impact on car park use.
The freeze means that an hour’s parking in Central waterfront Rumsey Street Car Park will cost just HK$3 per hour more in 2021 – HK$23 – than it did in 2015 (HK$20). Monthly rates at the Star Ferry car park will have risen only 1.2% per year over the same period, from $4,100 to $4,400, well below inflation.
The government has already offered significant subsidies to motor vehicle owners, with HK$1.4 billion for taxis, vans and shuttles announced earlier this year. In September last year, the government subsidised commercial vehicles to the tune of HK$678 million in waived licence and examination fees, while in October, Finance Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced a HK$1.35 billion fuel subsidy for the sector.
While the government justifies the freeze by saying car park occupancy is down under the pandemic lockdown, at lunchtime today (27 April), the 835-space Rumsey Street Car Park had just 24 spaces free, a utilisation rate of 97%, while nearby streets and the area surrounding Shun Tak Centre were clogged with widespread illegal parking.
Local district councillors had recently called for more parking to be made available in Central district by turning “idle” green areas into car parks – but the shortage of parking is not confined to Central. The Public Accounts Committee recently said it blames a car parking shortage on government reluctance to tackle vehicle growth. “PAC expresses grave dismay and finds it unacceptable that the Administration fails to address the growth in the size of the vehicle fleet, which has further aggravated the parking problems,” a spokesman says.
The 12 car parks managed by the government are Kennedy Town Car Park, Rumsey Street Car Park, Star Ferry Car Park, City Hall Car Park, Tin Hau Car Park, Shau Kei Wan Car Park, Aberdeen Car Park, Yau Ma Tei Car Park, Sheung Fung Street Car Park, Wong Tai Sin Public Transport Terminus Car Park, Kwai Fong Car Park and Tsuen Wan Car Park, collectively accounting for 4,824 spaces. There are around 165,598 private car parking spaces and 18,000 metered on-street spaces in the city.