parkingHong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority (URA) aims to deploy what has been dubbed “flying carpet” movable parking lots, where vehicles can be stacked on top of one another to form a vertical carpark in the space-starved city.

People can drive onto the “flying carpet,” stop the engine and exit, and then a novel revolving platform automatically lifts the car and places it in a space that is usually inaccessible to drivers. As a result, the space between cars to allow people to exit their vehicles can be eliminated to make room for more cars.

These automated systems typically provide 30-100% more parking space than conventional car parks.

A vertical carpark in use in China’s Shenzhen. Photo: Handout

Similar vertical carparks have been trialed across China.

Wai Chi-sing, the managing director of the URA, said each platform could cost up to HK$2 million (US$255,000) to install, but promised that parking fees at these new carparks to be trialed at new residential estates developed by the authority would not go up, thanks to the extra parking space created.

Automated car parks, underground roads and electric “flying carpets” are parts of the URA’s proposal to address Hong Kong’s urban issues like congested roads and inadequate parking lots.

The backdrop is that since 2006, the number of cars in the city has increased by more than 50% to about 616,000, while there has been hardly any increase in the total length of the city’s road system, according to government figures.

A report by the city’s Audit Commission found the ratio of public spaces to privately owned cars dropped from 1:1.5 in 2006 to 1:1.1 in 2018. The auditor even predicted that vehicles would soon outnumber spaces in the next few years.

Wai said after feasibility studies and clearing all the regulatory hurdles, the URA aims to build its first “flying carpets” by 2024, likely in the densely built-up districts like Sheung Wan and Kowloon City.

The URA is also looking at ways to connect underground automated car parks in Mong Kok and other parts of Kowloon with underground roads to alleviate the clogged roads there.