Reporters: John Cheng, Tracy Cheung, Vivian Lai, Jeffrey Loa
Editor: Emily Chung
In December 2013, the Executive Council passed a proposal to redevelop Tsim Sha Tsui’s Middle Road Multi-Storey Car Park for commercial use. The carpark has around 800 parking spaces for private cars and motorbikes. But according to the latest statistics from the Transport Department, the average daily utilisation rate of Middle Road Car Park is only 37 per cent. The low utilisation rate is one of the reasons given by the government to redevelop the land.
However, a random visit to the carpark during peak hours showed it was completely full and both Wilson Parking, which operates the carpark and the Town Planning Board, refused to provide a more detailed breakdown of the usage rates.
Hung Wing-tat, Associate Professor of the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University says the average daily utilisation rate measures the overall 24-hour daily parking situation and fails to address usage at any particular hour.
Apart from Middle Road Carpark, the government also announced plans to redevelop Murray Road Carpark in Central and the Rumsey Street Carpark in Sheung Wan to increase land supply for commercial and business use in Central and Wan Chai, in this year’s Policy Address.
Hui Chi-fung, Vice-Chairman of Traffic & Transport Committee of Central and Western District Council warns the demolition of these two carparks will worsen the already bad situation of unauthorised on-street parking in the district and lead to more congestion.
Rumsey Street Carpark offers 822 parking spaces for private cars, while Murray Road Carpark provides 388 spaces. The redevelopment of the two largest carparks in Central and Sheung Wan will drastically cut the number of parking spaces in the district.
The price of parking is another concern for the drivers, as private carparks nearby charge between HKD 5 and HKD 25 more per hour than Rumsey Street Carpark.
Hui stresses the government has ensure the Rumsey Street and Murray Road sites’ developers will comply with requirements to provide enough parking spaces. But in the long term, he believes the government must implement an Electronic Road Pricing System to ease traffic congestion in central business districts.