Multiple payment options for parking meters proposed

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By late 2016, Visa, MasterCard and UnionPay users may be able to use their cards to pay for parking in some urban areas under a pilot scheme to modernise on-street payment. Photo credit: Jeni Zhi

The government has rolled out a plan to modernise Hong Kong’s parking metres. Under the pilot scheme, 40 new meters covering some 120 slots in urban areas of Wan Chai, Sai Kung, Yuen Long and Mong Kok would be installed.

A Legco subcommittee discussed today an amendment to the Road Traffic (Parking) (Approved Cards) Notice that would allow the government to continue charging users through the Octopus card system. At the same time, officials have proposed the installation of a new device that would enable Visa payWave, MasterCard Contactless and UnionPay QuickPass payment functions and support offline payment transactions.

During the meeting, IT lawmaker Charles Mok (莫乃光) questioned whether the government should provide online transaction services as well. He also asked if the government would consider installing chargers for electric vehicles into the new meters. In response, Deputy Secretary for Transport and Housing (Transport) 3 Ivy Law (羅翠薇) noted that the inclusion of an online transaction function and chargers would require the constant replacement of batteries or cable connections to supply the needed energy, both of which would be cost-inefficient.

The new parking meters will be able to handle three or four vehicles each. Both Alan Leong (梁家傑) of the Civic Party and Transport lawmaker Frankie Yick (易志明) urged the government to consider instead a more cost-efficient “pay and display” system that would require a customer to purchase a parking ticket and display the ticket on the windshield or dashboard of the vehicle.

The amendment will take effect on 5 July 2016. The government aims to introduce the year-long pilot scheme in the last quarter of 2016 subject to approval by Legco’s Finance Committee. According to Law, the government is also studying the possibility of designing a payment platform for mobile phones, but its introduction would require major changes to related legislation.