Hong Kong’s first automated parking system will commence service on Thursday after a two-year trial. The system, aimed at easing a shortage of parking spots, is installed in a short-term tenancy car park at the junction of Hoi Shing Road and Hoi Kok Street in Tsuen Wan. The site has a total of 245 parking spaces, of which 78 are automated. “The automated parking system can further increase the number of parking spaces and [boost] spatial efficiency,” said Ricky Ho Wai-kee, assistant commissioner for transport (strategic task force). The government started testing the system in 2019 and planned to roll it out at other locations including Tai Po, Sham Shui Po, Tseung Kwan O, Chai Wan and Sheung Wan. Automated car parks are generally equipped with a lift and revolving platform. A driver will park his vehicle at the entrance, and the car is automatically transported to a designated space through the use of parking pallets. “The whole process should take just around two to three minutes,” said Keith Tang Kam-fai, principal project coordinator (parking) of the Transport Department. “The main objective of the automated parking system is to try to reduce or even eliminate illegal parking.” Automated systems typically provide 30 per cent to 100 per cent more parking space, compared with conventional car parks. Hong Kong car owners’ group calls on government to fix parking situation From 2010 to 2020, the number of private cars and van-size vehicles in Hong Kong rose by 44 per cent, from 457,000 to about 626,000. The number of parking spaces, meanwhile, grew by 8.6 per cent from 633,000 to about 688,000. The city’s ratio of public spaces to privately owned cars dropped from 1.38 to 1.10 during the same period. The Tsuen Wan car park has adopted a six-module stacking structure that is three storeys high, with five spaces on each floor. Size restrictions mean a vehicle should be no more than 5.2 metres long, 2.2 metres wide and 2 metres high, and should not weigh more than 2,500kg. The automated parking spots cost between HK$2,800 (US$360) and HK$3,100 to rent per month, with the price being cheaper on the higher floors. According to Tang, the fees are set by contractors instead of the government based on commercial considerations. The Tsuen Wan site is one of six automated parking system projects across the city, which will have different space and other practical limitations. The Transport Department was also examining how to install charging facilities on the sites for electric vehicles, in a nod to the city’s carbon neutrality initiatives, Tang added. Transport experts welcomed the automated parking system as an effort to improve spatial efficiency. Liberal Party lawmaker Frankie Yick Chi-ming said the construction of automated car parks was a response to the “outcry of the citizens” given the scarcity of parking spaces in the city. “[Automated] parking is a mature technology and we all wonder why it took so long for the government to carry out this pilot programme. All these should have been done [much earlier],” Yick said.