Law and Enforcement

CITY COULD LOSE $470M ANNUALLY FROM “SMART METER” MISUSE

Illegal occupation of “smart meters” was at around 15% in the first week of the scheme.

Central’s new “Smart Meters” showed a legal occupancy of just 45% last week, with miserly drivers preferring to park illegally across the street and with around 15% of the metered spaces illegally taken without payment.

Transit Jam surveyed a site in Yiu Sing Street, Central, where 20 of the smart meters were amongst the city’s first to be unveiled last week. Around 40% of the metered spaces remained vacant over the week, while thousands of cars made use of “free” illegal parking on nearby Finance Street.

The revenue lost by drivers preferring illegal parking to paid smart meter spaces could cost the city as much as $340 million per year, if the observed patterns duplicate across all 19,000 proposed smart meter parking spaces. Meanwhile theft of such parking spaces could cost around $130 million in lost revenue every year, for a total loss of $470 million per year if trends continue.

Parking at the site costs just $2 per 15 minutes and can be topped up remotely, up to four hours in total, through the HKeMeter app.

Transport Department did not respond to questions on the utilisation rates of the new meters.

The HK$682 million smart meter scheme came under fire last week after officials refused to divulge how they had gained approvals to widen Yiu Sing Street to make space for new metered parking. Officials had previously said the smart meters would replace existing meters, yet Transit Jam learned the scheme would add around 4,000 spaces to Hong Kong’s streets.

Finance Street, adjacent to Central’s first Smart Meter facility, is a blackspot for illegal parking. Around 30 cars park here illegally while 40% of nearby Yiu Sing Street’s smart meters remain empty.

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