Hong Kong to allow contactless credit card payment for parking meters on trial basis

Latest-generation meters will be installed in batches up until the end of 2017; if it is successful scheme could be extended to all parking meters from 2020

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 6:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 8:57am

Drivers will be able to use Octopus and contactless credit cards to ­settle parking charges from Friday under a new trial scheme aimed at creating convenient payment alternatives and reducing space for meters.

However, the meters were criticised for being “outdated” and failing to catch up with the latest technology.

The HK$3.8-million trial, implemented in two phases each lasting nine months, both involving 20 new parking meters covering about 60 metered spaces.

The first phase will be introduced at Fung Kwan Street car park in Yuen Long on Friday, followed by Tung Choi Street and Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok a week later.

The second phase was expected to be implemented in the second quarter of next year in Sai Kung and Wan Chai. The whole trial scheme was expected to be implemented by the end of 2017.

As well as Octopus, the new meters will accept the use of ­contactless credit cards enabled with Visa payWave, MasterCard Contactless and UnionPay QuickPass functions and supporting offline payment transactions.

There will be two types of new parking meter – dual-bay and quad-bay – controlling two and four spaces respectively. Existing meters cover only two spaces.

Announcing the move yesterday, assistant transport commissioner Stella Lee Yim-fong said meters in Hong Kong needed an upgrade as they had been in use for 10 years.

“After the trial scheme, we will study the public response and see whether we need to add features and functions to this new generation of parking meters,” she said, ­adding the new meters were “designed locally” by two contractors according to the ­government’s specifications without drawing on overseas experience.

Lee said mobile payment had not been introduced because it would require a legal amendment but might be included in the final proposal after the trial had ended.

She added that if things ran smoothly, the government ­intended to replace all 9,800 ­parking meters covering about 18,000 on-street spaces with the new model in phases from 2020.

The replacement programme was expected to take one to two years.

Wesley Wan Wai-hei, a member of the government’s Transport Advisory Committee, said he was disappointed about the lack of updated features in the new parking meters.

“This is exactly the model put forward for discussion two years ago. At that time we already thought this model was outdated, let alone now,” he said.

Wan said many countries had already stopped using parking meters. “They use a CCTV system to monitor the parking space and issue tickets automatically to the car owners who pay via their ­mobile phones. They don’t really need traffic officers to issue ­tickets,” he said.