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LCQ15: Combat illegal parking
     Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Regina Ip and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (January 11):
     The Police conducted a six-day territory-wide operation to combat illegal parking in November last year, during which 31 823 fixed penalty tickets (FPTs) were issued in respect of illegal parked vehicles and 40 of such vehicles were towed away.  Moreover, the Police issued a total of 1 165 779 FPTs during the period from January to September last year.  That figure represents an increase of 21% as compared with the same period of the preceding year, reflecting that the problem of illegal parking is getting worse.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of illegal parking (including double parking as well as illegal picking-up/alighting or loading/unloading and waiting at restricted zones) black spots, with a tabulated breakdown by Police Land Region;
(2) of the respective staffing establishment of Traffic Wardens of various Land Regions; whether the authorities will increase the manpower concerned so as to step up law enforcement efforts (including patrolling various illegal parking black spots more frequently and issuing more FPTs); if they will not, of the reasons for that;
(3) of the measures in place to step up efforts to combat illegal parking; whether they will consider (i) raising penalty for illegal parking and (ii) issuing without prior warning FPTs to drivers who park illegally; and
(4) apart from the Electronic Fixed Penalty Tickets Scheme which is expected to be launched in 2019 the earliest, whether the authorities will consider applying more technologies to enhance the Police's efficiency in issuing FPTs, e.g. providing the relevant information of a vehicle, in the form of a scannable two-dimensional barcode, in a vehicle licence disc for the vehicle owner to place on the windscreen of the vehicle?

     My reply to the various parts of the Hon Mrs Regina Ip's question is as follows.

(1) The problem of illegal parking has been worsening, especially at certain locations in the urban area (e.g. Queen's Road Central near LANDMARK, King's Road near Fortress Hill MTR Station and Middle Road near the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers).  However, since the Police and the Transport Department (TD) currently have not defined what constitutes an illegal parking "black spot", they could not provide any information on the number of illegal parking "black spots".

(2) and (3) At present, pursuant to the Fixed Penalty (Traffic Contraventions) Ordinance (Cap 237), the Police may issue fixed penalty tickets with a penalty of $320 in respect of vehicles involved in illegal parking.  Moreover, in accordance with the Fixed Penalty (Criminal Proceedings) Ordinance (Cap 240), the Police may issue fixed penalty tickets with a penalty of $450 to drivers committing certain road traffic related offences, including illegally picking up/setting down passengers or loading/unloading goods in restricted zones.

     The Government has adopted a multipronged approach to combat illegal parking, including increasing penalty level, strengthening enforcements and conducting a parking policy review.  The Transport Advisory Committee (TAC), in its Report on Study of Road Traffic Congestion in Hong Kong submitted to the Government earlier, pointed out that with rising inflation and income level, the deterrent effect of fixed penalties for traffic offences is diminishing.  The TAC recommended that the Government should raise the level of fixed penalties with reference to the increase of the Composite Consumer Price Index (CCPI).  The Government agreed with the recommendations of TAC and consulted the Legislative Council Panel on Transport (Transport Panel) in December 2015 on the proposed increase of the fixed penalties by 50% on the basis of the increase of about 50% of the CCPI between 1994 (when the fixed penalties were last increased) to end-September 2015 (a period of about 20 years), i.e. from $320 and $450 to $480 and $680 respectively, so as to restore their deterrent effects.  The Government also attended the special meeting of the Transport Panel held in January 2016 to listen to the views of the deputations and individuals.

     The Government originally planned to table the related legislative amendments at the Legislative Council (LegCo) in the last legislative session (2015/16).  Nevertheless, as the end of the term of the LegCo was drawing near at the time, and that there were still a large number of outstanding urgent and essential Bills and legislative proposals, after discussing with LegCo Members from various political parties and groups, the Government had decided to put in abeyance the proposed legislative amendments temporarily.  The Government now plans to table the proposed legislative amendments at the LegCo in the first quarter of this year.

     Meanwhile, the Police have stepped up enforcement actions to combat the problem of illegal parking.  Apart from routine traffic enforcements, the Police carried out four territory-wide enforcement operations last year against illegal parking under Selected Traffic Enforcement Priorities 2016.  During these operations, the Police targeted offences that would cause traffic accidents or obstruct traffic flow.  Stringent enforcement actions were taken including issuing fixed penalty tickets without notice, issuing summons to drivers who intentionally violated the law, and towing away illegally parked which caused serious obstruction.  During the four operations, the Police issued a total of 147 048 fixed penalty tickets and towed away 54 vehicles.  Between January and November 2016, the Police issued 1 472 915 tickets in total, which was 21% higher than the corresponding period in 2015.  Enforcement actions such as issuing fixed penalty tickets without notice will continue in 2017.  Apart from enhanced enforcement actions, the Police have also stepped up publicity and public education with a view to increasing the safety awareness of road users and changing their improper behaviours and attitudes. 

     At present, there are nearly 300 traffic wardens in the Hong Kong Police Force. Their distribution by Land Regions of the Police is set out below:
Police Regions No. of traffic wardens
HK Island 81
East Kowloon 30
West Kowloon 106
North New Territories 30
South New Territories 51
Total 298

     The Government will review the number of traffic wardens from time to time and, where necessary, increase their manpower to cope with traffic enforcement work.

(4) The Police are studying the use of electronic fixed penalty tickets, including printing two-dimensional barcode on vehicle licences.  Frontline enforcement staff can read related vehicle information on a vehicle licence by scanning the barcode, thereby enhancing the efficiency of the frontline staff in issuing fixed penalty tickets.  The Police will keep in view technology developments so as to assist frontline staff in carrying out enforcement work and enhance efficiency of supporting staff. 
Ends/Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:00
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