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    Jul 05, 2016

    HDB faces $100m yearly loss without parking fee hike

    THE rising cost of operating public carparks here would have spelt big shortfalls for the Housing Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), if parking fees had not been hiked.

    Since 2002, when the rates were last raised, the cost of operating carparks has risen 40 per cent, the two agencies told The Straits Times.

    Without the latest rate increase, HDB stood to lose $100 million a year.

    This was despite the two agencies earning a total of $667 million from their carparks in their latest financials for 2014/2015.

    Last week, both agencies said short-term parking charges will increase by 20 per cent islandwide from December.

    This means that outside of the restricted zone (RZ) in the city area, parking will cost $1.20 an hour, up from $1.

    Within the RZ, parking will cost double that - at $2.40 an hour, up from $2. Season parking rates will also go up.

    In a joint statement, the agencies said operating costs "which include maintenance, financing, depreciation and overall operating expenses" have risen by 40 per cent since 2002, and at current carpark rates, they would not be able to recover the full cost of parking provision.

    They pointed out that HDB alone spends over $700 million a year operating carparks - building, maintaining and improving them.

    "Without the increase in the carpark charges, HDB will face an average shortfall of more than $100 million for its carpark activity in the coming financial years," said the agencies.

    In the financial year ending in March 2015, HDB reported an income of over $595 million from its carparks. This has risen gradually from $523 million in the 2009/2010 financial year.

    Over the same period, URA has seen its income from parking fees and related charges rise from $62 million to $71 million.

    An industry source said operating costs in the carpark business have increased about 20 per cent to 30 per cent for private operators since 2002.

    "The electronic parking systems (EPS) are the most expensive, it can cost up to $150,000 when we install them at a single carpark," said the source who is from a private parking operator.

    The EPS has been implemented in 1,200 of the 2,000 HDB carparks.

    Some motorists point out that the EPS should save agencies manpower costs, given that fewer parking attendants are required.

    MP Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said there are other "maintenance costs you cannot run away from".

    "Cleaning, resurfacing, ensuring that the lines are drawn and lights are working... some multi-storey carparks have lifts as well," he noted.