Annex 6 International Case Studies

Hong Kong

1970s - Hong Kong relatively undeveloped

The first policy aimed to restrict the parking supply in the CBD in order to restrain car use and reduce early signs of future congestion, although during this period, traffic volumes and trip rates were not high. Notwithstanding this, the Hong Kong government constructed several multi-storey car parks around the periphery of the central area in order to overcome a perceived deficiency. The aim was that the government would control the parking supply, not developers or private operators. But these multi-story car parks were considered to have run at a loss once the land, construction, and maintenance costs were considered. These costs were extremely high and it was virtually impossible to recoup them.

1980s - Boom and bust

With the ‘open door’ policies of Deng Xiaoping, Hong Kong’s economy grew. Traffic volumes grew and trips increased. There was a debate about which was more efficient in terms of the utilization of road space – using a car to commute to work or using a taxi. The key elements of the debate are summarized in Table 1:

Table 1 Summary of 1980s Debate on Best Mode for Journey To/From Work

Mode For Journey To/From Work Advantages Disadvantages
Private car
  • One journey each way
  • No empty trip
  • Less circulating traffic
  • Needs parking space
  • Occupies parking space for the whole day
  • Does not require parking space
  • Two journeys each way, return journey possibly empty
  • More circulating traffic

Source: This Study, 2007.

Ultimately, the private car lobby won the debate and the Hong Kong government effectively did a U-turn on parking policy. Parking supply and pricing was not to be used as a restraint measure. Traffic restraint would be by other means (for example, the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) scheme which was, ultimately, not implemented). In general private car parking was not restrained. During the early 1980s, parking standards were developed in the Planning Standards and Guidelines (PSG). An important point to note is that these standards included standards for loading/unloading bays for different sizes of goods vehicles (light, medium, heavy, and container trucks). The standards were minimum standards, which were required to be met. For residential developments, the standards required that a minimum number of car spaces be provided per specific number of flats. For retail, commercial, and business development, the number of parking spaces was related to gross floor area.

The HK Authority responsible for the PSG is the Director of Lands for leases, the Building Authority with respect to building plans, and the respective District Planning Conferences with respect to development parameters for public housing estates, taking advice from Transport and other relevant departments.

1990s - Consolidation

Traffic restraint through parking controls has occurred naturally as a result of very expensive land values, rather than through government control of parking (as originally intended). The marketplace dynamics took over. Private operators manage car parks in the CBD. The price of land is too high for public parking. Car ownership is naturally restrained by the cost of having a car parking space (currently, typically HK$40,000/year) compared with the cost of buying a car (HK$50,000 for a 3-year-old second hand car or HK$120,000 for a new car) or running a car (HK$30,000/year). Demand for parking exceeds supply. At the same time, public transport was extensively developed and prioritized by traffic management measures to provide an alternative to the private car.

2000 - New Parking Standards

New parking standards were issued in 2000 which updated the old standards and generally increased provision in residential areas and for commercial facilities, gave better provision for parking facilities for the disabled, better provision for taxi drop-off/pick-up and more specific goods vehicle parking and loading/unloading bays. Table 2 below summarizes the objectives of the new standards. The objective is still to provide minimum rather than maximum standards. Developers are required to include the car parking area within their overall gross floor area (gfa) to ensure that car parking space is not eroded by retail or commercial space (which commands higher rents).

Table 2 Hong Kong Parking Standards 2000 - Statement of Intent

Type Of Development Statement Of Intent
Residential developments The overall intention of the standards is to ensure that subject to road capacity considerations, future residential developments should have sufficient parking provision to match the car ownership of residents.
Community facilities The provision of parking for community facilities should generally be limited to operational requirements. Users of community facilities will generally be expected to use public transport or public car parks. However, for certain major facilities such as cultural/recreational complexes, which are of territorial significance, there may be a need to provide sufficient parking spaces commensurate with the nature of such facilities.
Commercial facilities The overall intention of the standards is to ensure that, except in special circumstances, future commercial developments should have sufficient on-site parking to match manifest operational requirements.
Industrial developments The overall intention of the standards is to ensure that sufficient parking and loading/unloading spaces are provided to satisfy requirements.

The HK Authority has the flexibility to meet special circumstances and in the provision of new car parks will consider the following aspects:

  • Proximity to and quality of pedestrian access linking railway stations and other major public transport interchanges;
  • Availability of public car parks in the locality;
  • Projected road capacity and traffic volumes in the immediate vicinity and the wider district, particularly in the urban area which are usually subject to high levels of road congestion;
  • Feasibility of providing safe entry/exit points;
  • Existence of closed road permit; and
  • Area and shape of specific site.
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