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Smart Traffic Management
2016-05-04

Following is a question by the Hon Charles Peter Mok and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (May 4):

Question:

The Government has proposed a study of the development of a “smart city” in both of the Policy Addresses of last year and this year. In a smart city, smart technologies are employed to revamp and enhance its systems, operations and services, thereby improving the functions of the city. Besides, smart technologies are useful in managing traffic and mitigating traffic congestion. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) with regard to the installation of “stop-and-go” e-payment facilities at manual toll booths of government tolled tunnels and roads currently under study by the authorities, of the (i) details of the technologies, (ii) development and operation costs and (iii) names of the roads and tunnels involved, together with (iv) the expected commissioning date of such facilities;

(2) with regard to the “stop-and-go” e-payment facilities mentioned in (1), of the (i) mobile payment technologies to be introduced by the authorities, and (ii) mobile payment methods in support of such facilities and the functions associated with the methods; whether the authorities have consulted members of the relevant sectors when conducting the relevant study; if they have, of the consultation details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) with regard to the trial scheme on new generation of parking meters (new parking meters) currently implemented by the authorities, of the locations and number of parking meters involved (broken down by District Council district);

(4) with regard to the trial scheme mentioned in (3), of the (i) mobile payment methods in support of the scheme and the functions associated with the methods, (ii) locations where on-site testing scheme has been conducted and (iii) development and operation costs; whether the authorities have plans to replace all roadside parking meters with new parking meters; if they do, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(5) whether the authorities have studied the offer of parking concessions to drivers of environment-friendly vehicles when introducing new parking meters, so as to encourage more people to use such vehicles; whether the authorities have studied the introduction of parking meters capable of making real-time adjustments to parking charges according to factors such as location and usage rate of parking spaces as well as average parking time, etc., so as to regulate the supply of and demand for roadside parking spaces; if they have conducted such a study, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether the authorities will release the real-time data on usage rate of parking spaces to facilitate drivers’ choices of driving routes and parking locations; if they will release such data, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(6) given that the authorities have just completed the public engagement exercise for the Electronic Road Pricing Pilot Scheme in Central and its Adjacent Areas, and are planning to update the Transport Information System of the Transport Department, whether they will conduct a study on how to make the computer systems involved in those two tasks compatible with the computer systems involved in the various aforesaid e-payment facilities, and adopt a standardised and open data format to facilitate public use of such systems, and encourage public and private organisations to make use of the relevant data for transport studies; if the authorities will conduct such a study, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

My reply to the various parts of the Hon Charles Peter Mok’s question is as follows:

(1) and (2) The Transport Department (TD) has obtained funding from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) for introducing “stop-and-go” e-payment facilities at seven government tolled tunnels and roads, namely Aberdeen Tunnel, Cross Harbour Tunnel, Lion Rock Tunnel, Shing Mun Tunnels, Tseung Kwan O Tunnel, Lantau Link and Tsing Sha Highway. The facilities aim to provide motorists with the choice of an alternative payment method, i.e. using contactless smart cards.

Upon securing the funding, TD and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department have been actively working on the preparatory and preliminary work on the technical details of the project. Major work includes modification of the existing manual toll collection system at the government tolled tunnels and roads, installation of e-payment facilities, and formulation of requirements and terms in the contract for future contractors providing e-payment services. The modification of the existing manual toll collection system is now complete. Within the coming two months or so, the contractor selected through open tender will commence system design for the e-payment facilities; and TD will conduct another open tender exercise to select contractors for providing e-payment services. We need to make amendments to relevant subsidiary legislation for e-payment, and will consult the LegCo Panel on Transport on the legislative proposals within this year. We expect that “stop-and-go” e-payment facilities will come into operation at the above-mentioned seven government tolled tunnels and roads in phases from mid-2017. Details will be announced nearer the time. The estimated cost of the entire project is around $45.53 million, and the operating expenditure is estimated at $15 million per year.

TD plans to adopt the contactless smart card payment technologies which are currently commonly used in the market. Motorists only need to hold a specified contactless smart card within two cm of the card reader for the latter to detect the data on the smart card for transaction purpose. TD will select contractors for providing e-payment services through open tender. In formulating the tender requirements, TD had consulted different suppliers of the services concerned in the market on a number of occasions, in order to understand the existing operation modes and technological development of “stop-and-go” e-payment facilities in the market.

(3) and (4) At present, there are about 9 800 electronic parking meters in the territory, supporting a total of around 18 000 on-street metered parking spaces. The Government will launch a New Parking Meter System Trial Scheme (Trial Scheme) to examine the scope for introducing a new generation of parking meters with new features and functions. The Trial Scheme will, among other things, test different payment methods (e.g. using a new model of card reader with enhanced transaction speed to accept payment by Octopus and other contactless transaction payment cards), and enhance the system functions with wireless communication technology (e.g. automatic uploading of transaction and utilisation data and pro-active fault alerts).

The Government has selected new suppliers for the provision of new parking meter system through open tender. The design work for the new system and functions is already underway. Field tests will be conducted in four districts, namely Yau Tsim Mong, Wan Chai, Yuen Long and Sai Kung, for a total of about 120 on-street metered parking spaces. The exact locations of these meters have yet to be confirmed at this stage. We will table the relevant legislative amendments at LegCo this month, in order that the field trial can commence in the fourth quarter of 2016 for completion in the fourth quarter of 2017. The estimated expenditure of the Trial Scheme is around $3.8 million.

After the implementation of the Trial Scheme, we will assess and finalise the functions and specifications required of the new generation of parking meters for full replacement of existing parking meters.

(5) Currently, the utilisation rate of on-street metered parking spaces is quite high and vacant ones will usually be taken up by vehicles nearby within a short time span. TD therefore considers that real time information on utilisation rate may not provide practical use to motorists, and has currently no plan to collect and disseminate real time data on vacant on-street parking spaces or to change the charging mode of on-street parking. This notwithstanding, TD may consider adjusting the fee of individual parking spaces depending on the circumstances of individual on-street metered parking spaces (e.g. traffic conditions and utilisation rate, etc.). As regards the proposal of offering on-street metered parking concessions to environment-friendly vehicles, the Government has always been encouraging the use of public transport as far as possible so as to reduce the use of private cars. Using public transport is more environmentally-friendly and helps mitigate traffic congestion. As such, the Government has no plan to offer on-street metered parking concessions for environmentally-friendly vehicles.

(6) Currently, the transport data in TD’s Transport Information System (TIS), such as traffic directions, turning restrictions at road junctions and traffic flow, etc., have been integrated into an Intelligent Road Network which is in Geographic Information System format, and is open to the public. Private institutions and academics can use such data to develop other intelligent transport applications and to conduct transport studies. Moreover, other real time traffic data, such as traffic snapshot images, special traffic news, cross-harbour journey times, traffic speed maps, etc, have been digitalised and provided to the public free-of-charge through the government’s public information portal “data.gov.hk”. With the enhancement of the computing capacity of TIS in future, more traffic information, such as possible changes in traffic conditions and estimated travel time, will be provided, allowing TD and private institutions to develop more innovative services which meet the personal needs of travellers.

TD will conduct a study on the dissemination of real-time data to be collected through the Electronic Road Pricing Pilot Scheme in Central and its Adjacent Areas (the ERP Pilot Scheme), the new generation of parking meter system and the “stop-and-go” e-payment facilities. The aim of the study is to facilitate travel planning by the public through dissemination of such data.

During the public engagement exercise, some members of the public proposed that the payment system of the ERP Pilot Scheme should be made compatible with the automatic toll collection systems currently used in various tunnels. At present, the Government keeps an open mind towards the technology and toll collection method to be adopted in the ERP Pilot Scheme. We will conduct an in-depth feasibility study for the ERP Pilot Scheme, which covers the technical issues such as the compatibility of payment system of the ERP Pilot Scheme system with other systems, as well as the data format to be adopted, etc.
Ends/Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:13

Office Of Hon. Charles Mok, Legislative Councillor (IT)