Hong Kong motorists ‘face traffic disaster’ with closure of car park in main business district

Critics of redevelopment plan say the loss of 388 spaces at Murray Road site will cause even more misery in the already congested area

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 7:33am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 7:32am

Traffic jams in the prime business district on Hong Kong Island are likely to get worse after May 1 when the five-storey public car park in Murray Road, Central, closes to make way for offices.

Without an additional supply to make up for the loss of the 388 parking spaces, one critic warned of a “disaster” for road conditions in the area.

“After midnight on April 30, any vehicles found parked at the car park will be towed away and parking and towing fees will be charged as appropriate,” a Transport Department spokesman said on Thursday.

The Murray Road site was put out to tender last month by the government and is expected to yield a gross floor area of 40,000 square metres of Grade A office space and add HK$15 billion to government coffers.

Concerns were raised over the impact on road conditions, already packed in Central, as the car park provided 388 spaces for private cars and 55 for motorcycles, with an average usage rate of 80 per cent in peak hours last year.

But the government said that based on a consultancy study there would still be enough spaces in other car parks within a 15-minute walk. These include Harcourt Garden, Star Ferry, City Hall, Cheung Kong Center and Citibank Plaza.

However, in a reply to the Legislative Council earlier the Development Bureau admitted: “For motor cycle parking spaces, there will be a partial shortfall during peak hours.”

The new complex is expected to provide about 102 and 69 public parking spaces for private cars and motor cycles respectively.

Liberal Party lawmaker Frankie Yick Chi-ming said traffic congestion in Central looked set to worsen with the car park’s closure and claimed the government was being too optimistic about the supply of spaces in the district.

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“Actually in Legco nobody believes in the government assessment. We all know that it is hard to find parking spaces in Central,” he said.

“Without another designated area to replace the Murray Road car park, where can drivers park their vehicles? It’s inevitable that they will drive around the area to compete for parking spaces and cause more congestion.”

Stanley Chiang Chi-wai, spokesman for the Land Transportation Alliance, predicted a “disaster” for drivers and commuters in Central and feared even more cases of illegal parking.

“The government never considers the needs of the public. Does the government expect people in Central to stop using private cars?” he asked.

Quentin Cheng Hin-kei, spokesman for concern group Public Transport Research Team, agreed, saying it was irresponsible for the government to ignore the social function of a site just for the sake of generating more income.

“The new complex will definitely trigger more demand for parking spaces. How does the government address this problem?” he asked.