Parking fee system obsolete and outmoded

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 December, 1999, 12:00am

It looks like the year 2000 will bring us hapless denizens of Hong Kong more taxes and higher fees, to judge by the loud whispers from our financial viziers.

Obviously, the Financial Secretary will be casting his net over wider circles in order to ensnare more taxpayers.

We can expect vehicle owners to be hard hit, since they are guilty of all sorts of crimes, including polluting, causing traffic jams, buying illegal fuel and drinking before driving.

These vices must be paid for, so hit them where it hurts - in the wallet. Motorists will be the new herd of golden geese to lay golden eggs for the SAR.

We are already hearing hints of higher charges for parking, including abolishing free parking on Sundays and holidays.

Every day will yield a bonanza for the Treasury - a 24- hour cascade of wealth, 365 days a year.

Our expensive electronic parking metres will be programmed to extract the maximum return from users and traffic wardens will patrol with even greater vigilance to pounce on unwary overstayers.

But wait! Why limit a parking stay to two hours? Why cannot the electronic wizards devise a parking scheme that allows for longer parking at a higher rate? If the administration needs more money, why not give motorists what they want and charge them for it? The Transport Department maintains that street parking is limited to two hours to encourage more turnaround and to discourage long-term parking. But this is just a sterile formula.

Anyone can park all day and all night just by coming back every 120 minutes.

Wouldn't it be better to ease their burden and collect more revenue? Just increase the fee for longer terms.

Must we be locked into an obsolete and outmoded system just because it was imported from England? Street parking space is very valuable.

Right now it is being squandered on hundreds of stalls and storage sheds, with little return to government.

There are miles of roads with low usage that could yield a large income, just for the expense of marking spaces and installing versatile card machines.

Let us hope that the Transport Department opts for creative and lucrative innovations that benefit motorists with more convenient parking and bring more money into the Treasury's coffers.