The remote payment system for thousands of “smart” parking meters has been offline this morning “due to a backend system problem”, according to Transport Department (TD), the second failure in several months.
TD apologised for the inconvenience to motorists, who can usually use the HKeMeter app to top up their parking payments from afar, rather than returning to their vehicle to make payment.
Under the HK$680 million smart meter scheme, rolled out in January by TD and a joint venture between Flowbird and HKT, motorists can buy a maximum duration of two hours to start their parking session at most smart meters, but can add up to another two hours remotely through the app. Some smart meters have lower limits, set at either 30 minutes plus 30 minutes top-up or an hour plus an hour top-up.
TD is rolling out 12,000 of the new meters, with around 3,400 installed by June 2021. “It is anticipated that replacement of all existing parking meters will be completed by the first half of 2022,” says a government spokeswoman.
The outage lasted around 90 minutes, according to the government.
Outages or system problems have happened before, with the most recent in July. At the time, TD would not comment on lost revenue or how many vehicles might have left their parking unpaid if unable to top up.
A survey by Transit Jam earlier this year showed only a 45% compliance rate with the new parking meters, leading to estimates the city could be losing $470 million annually from parking meter abuse.
The Smart Meter parking rates remain at colonial levels of $8 per hour.