Parking-space rule can help cut serious traffic congestion

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 February, 2016, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 February, 2016, 4:42pm

Over the past five years, vehicular traffic has been growing at around 4 per cent per annum in Hong Kong, with nearly 800,000 registered vehicles on the road; that is one vehicle for every three households.

If growth continues at this rate, there will be nearly one million vehicles on the roads within five years.

It would seem that the government has no coherent plan to manage this problem. The Highways Department is doing its best to be build more major highways, while other departments are closing car parks and the public is pushing for greater use of pedestrianisation.

The problems of this unchecked growth result in traffic congestion and a chaotic parking situation. Building new highways will not solve this problem.

I would suggest that every Hong Kong driver and a yet unknown number of mainland motorists who would like to own a car may enjoy the privilege of driving on Hong Kong roads, but that is just not practical.

It would be unreasonable to restrict vehicle purchase and high registration and vehicle tax no longer seem to be a deterrent. Blue-sky thinking is required to address this unsustainable situation.

As a vehicle owner, there are a number of obligations to be met; the need for vehicle tax, vehicle insurance and a place to park. Thus, the way to control unrestricted vehicle growth is for owners to demonstrate they have a suitable parking place as part of the annual vehicle tax application.

Clearly, to implement this simple idea a smart system would be required to avoid creating a bureaucratic nightmare; this could be achieved using a suitably designed geographic information system and user application.

The applicant would record the location of the car park and a central computer would confirm the site is suitable and has not been allocated. Development of the software for this task would be an opportunity for the local information technology industry to create some unique solutions to a worldwide problem.

The requirement to show the vehicle owner has a suitable parking place could be introduced as part of the annual licence fee renewal with the minimum of fuss.

With only a finite number of parking spaces available, the number of vehicles on the road will stabilise to match supply along with a healthy market in legal parking arrangements.

Tymon Mellor, Tai Po