The public opening of the new Automated Parking System (APS) in Tsuen Wan West was marred by “concerns on the economics” of the scheme from former lawmaker Michael Tien and misogynistic remarks about female drivers from a former Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) lawmaker.
According to Michael Tien, speaking on site yesterday, the bidding process for new automated parking schemes lacks any incentive for operators to boost capacity. Tien said the government tenders seek only a bare minimum of extra parking spaces in new sites.
“Without this thing, [this parking lot] will have a capacity of 200 cars. This thing added only 45 spaces, only 20%, the question is, why couldn’t they build it four or five or six storeys?” he said.
The new APS offers 78 spaces in total, but the APS itself took up around 30 to 40 car and truck parking spaces to install, bringing the number of spaces in the lot up from 200 to just 245.
“In the bidding process, the government only says the operator must provide a minimum of 245 spaces, there’s no extra points given to any amount over that. They simply go for the amount of rental income, whoever pays the highest. There’s no incentive, and that’s the part I think is a big problem,” says the former lawmaker.
Tien suggested adjusting the tender assessment to include capacity as well as price.
“I think rental should only be half [the tender assessment]. The other half should be how much more can you do than the 245. My point is, aren’t you supposed to get investors to come in and outbid each other?”
Tien’s suggestion parallels the new approach seen at Site 3, for example, where the government adopted a “two envelope” tender system for the land development proposals.
“I am a capitalist,” says Tien, founder of the G2000 clothing chain. “I want to incentivise the operators to put more money in.”
Transport Department has not responded to questions on the bidding process but says it 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.”
Misogynistic remarks from DAB
Also at the public opening was DAB’s Ben Chan Han-pan, who had previously lobbied for the opening of the APS in his district.
In comments widely seen as misogynistic, Chan joked he would have a female colleague test the parking system. “If a lady can drive in, everybody can use it,” he told Transit Jam on site.
Chan’s female colleague parked a staff petrol-powered minivan. Chan then followed in his dual-plate luxury seven-seater petrol Vellfire, which fitted the 5-metre length limit with just 65 mm to spare.
DAB’s Starry Lee and Elizabeth Quat have been approached for comment on Chan’s remarks.
The system faltered several times as Chan’s colleague tried to finalise the parking process, with the smart card reader failing to complete the transaction and the system gates failing to close. A technician made adjustments at the rear of the structure and the gates resumed. The process took around 6 minutes and 10 seconds to complete.
Five more sites will be developed for APS, including a waterfront site near Shun Tak Centre in Sheung Wan, an existing car park in Sham Shui Po and others in Tai Po and Chai Wan.
The Tsuen Wan West location has no electric vehicle charging facilities and 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.