Assitant Commissioner for Transport Ricky Ho Wai-kee (right) unveiling the new APS in Tsuen Wan West today

The government has brushed off questions about the lack of electric vehicle (EV) support at its next-generation car park technology unveiled in the western New Territories today.

Assistant Commissioner for Transport Ricky Ho Wai-kee showcased the first “Automated Parking System” at a scruffy Tsuen Wan West parking lot this morning, but could not explain why the facility lacked charging facilities.

“I think internationally there is no so-called proven technique to install EV charging for the Automated Parking System,” he said.

In reality, several manufacturers offer such systems, including ParkPlus in the US which installed an EV-ready APS, almost identical to the Tsuen Wan West machines, in an apartment block in Manhattan in 2019. And Hong Kong’s own University of Science and Technology has demonstrated a trolley-system with in-built EV charging too.

Ho said the government would explore EV charging at APS sites “when the technique is mature enough”. The government has previously said it aims to decarbonise transport through the adoption of EVs and will halt the sale of traditional petrol and diesel cars from 2035.

Aside from lacking EV charging facilities, the new APS, which was awarded a minimum five-year tenancy by the government, is apparently not integrated into any smart city or other application, such as the government HKeMeter app.

Within the parking lot, where traditional parking spaces are still marked out by string, drivers need a special card to park or retrieve their car in the APS, and are then required to separately pay for their parking on exit to the street.

According to Ho, the “main objective” of the new six-block parking structure is to “try to reduce or even eliminate illegal parking in the vicinity”.

“I can’t guarantee [we will solve illegal parking] but we can provide more space for them, they have no excuse, if we provide more parking spaces for them they need to park inside the car park instead of parking illegally.”

When asked if the government would step up enforcement around Hoi Shing Road and Hoi Kok Street to help achieve the illegal parking objective, Ho said “this is a question for the police to answer.”

Illegal parking by vans and trucks is a problem in the district – one which the new APS will not be able to solve

Many of the illegally parked vehicles in the area are in fact delivery vans or trucks which would be too large or too heavy for the new APS, which has a weight limit of 2.5 tonnes per vehicle.

A Transport Department spokeswoman said the car parking charges were not an issue for government to discuss but estimated the “ground level” parking in the structure would cost the same as the existing car parking – around $24 per hour or $130 per day, while the upper levels might be cheaper as cars would take longer to return to drivers.

Given the car pallets move around as the “puzzle” system stacks cars, it is not clear what would constitute a “ground level” parking space, as such a space could move up to the first or second level to make room for new arrivals and may not return to the ground level until the driver returns.

According to Keith Tang Kam-fai, Principal Project Coordinator (Parking) for Transport Department, car retrieval will only take “two to three minutes” even when the stacked system is full.

Officials today said they intended to build more such systems into short-term tenancy car parks, with another tender invitation for Tai Po completed.

“The Government will continue to take forward APS projects so as to consolidate experience in building, operating and managing different APS types and the associated financial arrangements. This will pave the way for wider APS application in public car parks in future,” said a government press release.

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