Parking fines must rise by HK$500 to tackle traffic crisis, say police

After recent rise in cases, traffic police chief says fines should more than double to deter drivers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 December, 2013, 4:17am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 December, 2013, 4:55pm

Fines should be more than doubled to tackle illegal parking, which is getting out of hand, a top traffic police officer has said.

Chief Superintendent Paul Stripp said yesterday if the fine was to act as a deterrent it should be increased by HK$500, to HK$820.

His call came after it was announced that 860,339 parking tickets were issued in the first 10 months of this year, 101,443 more than in the whole of last year.

Illegal parking now takes up 60 per cent of traffic police time, prompting force chiefs to urge officials to review the current HK$320 fine.

Hong Kong's parking fine is significantly lower than that in Sydney, New York and London, with the last increase being a HK$120 rise in 1994.

Stripp said illegal parking was a "big problem" and was increasing the risk of accidents. The problem was most serious in Yau Tsim Mong, Kwun Tong and Tai Po. It was also an issue in many new towns, he said.

Drivers breaking parking rules in Sydney face a much tougher time. The highest penalty in that city is A$607 (HK$4,288). For the least serious parking offences, such as disobeying a no-parking sign, drivers in Sydney pay A$101. In the City of London, parking penalties are divided into two tiers - £80 (HK$1,020) and £130. Offenders in New York pay US$60 to US$515.

Hung Wing-tat, associate professor in Polytechnic University's civil and structural engineering department, said the government should come up with comprehensive parking policies instead of just increasing parking fines.

"There are many cars parking illegally in the New Territories villages too, but it's meaningless to issue tickets to all of them because they don't obstruct the traffic," Hung said. "Hong Kong just doesn't have any parking policies."

The city could learn from Singapore and London, where measures had been taken to deter cars from entering the city centre, he said.

"Many rich people have a driver, so they just drive off when the police tell them to go," Hung said.

"The policy should be changed so the police could issue tickets right away. That would be much more of a deterrent."

The Transport and Housing Bureau, which sets parking fines, said it had been studying the illegal parking situation and would review the level of penalties at a "suitable time".