Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Increased Parking Fines get Honks of Protest

There needs to be increased enforcement of parking penalties and higher fines
Talk about backtracking.

Hong Kong has a lot of traffic jams during rush hour, and it's mostly due to private cars and vans waiting for their masters and mistresses to whisk them off to their next appointment. These vehicles are usually idling and clogging up roads where traffic should be moving.

And so the government submitted a proposal to raise fixed penalties for illegal parking and related offenses from HK$320 and HK$450 to HK$480 and HK$680 respectively.

But in a bizarre turn of events, lawmakers of all political stripes as well as those from the transport sector were so opposed to this that the government has backed down and lowered the fines to HK$400 and HK$560 instead.

Opposition claims there aren't enough parking spots
Under the revised proposal, making U-turn causing an obstruction and an unauthorized stopping at a bus stop, public light bus stand or taxi stand will be slapped with a fixed penalty of HK$400, while offenses like loading or unloading goods or picking up passengers in a restricted zone will face a fixed penalty of HK$560.

The proposal will be voted on at the end of June and are expected to take effect June 1 next year.

The revision came after feedback from the transport subcommittee and individuals claimed that an increase of 50 percent for illegal parking was "hefty" and that a phased approach should be considered.

In addition, lawmakers from across the political spectrum said there was an acute shortage of parking spaces for commercial vehicles, arguing the city should tackle this problem before penalizing those in the transport sector.

But isn't that the point of raising penalties to prevent illegal parking and other infractions? It's not about making the fines affordable. And besides, in the case of private car owners, if they can buy a car, they can surely afford a several hundred dollar fine.

Vehicles, like this one, clog up streets waiting for owners
As the government also notes, even when there are vacant parking spaces, motorists still choose to park their vehicles illegally "for their own convenience, or to save parking fees".

The number of penalty tickets issued last year was 1.6 million, almost double 820,000 in 2011. The number of licensed vehicles in Hong Kong is 710,000 as of February.

Meanwhile Liberal Party lawmaker Frankie Yick Chi-ming, who represents the transport sector, says he opposes the proposed rises in illegal parking fines, saying the government should be stepping up enforcement at black spots by towing away illegally parked cars.

"The government is barking up the wrong tree. Increasing fines can't deter illegal parking when the shortage of parking spaces is not resolved. Only strict enforcement such as towing away illegally parked cars can be a deterrent."

We agree with the government -- it's about selfishness and thinking they can get away with parking illegally in the hopes they won't get caught.

There definitely needs to be more enforcement and higher fines, but halving the proposed rise in fines is such a cop-out. Why bend to such pressure?

Don't we want more efficient traffic in the city?

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