A proposed revamp of tolls for Hong Kong’s three cross-harbour tunnels hit a setback on Thursday after a coalition of 14 lawmakers put forward a counter-scheme that included cutting off-peak fees to as low as HK$15 (US$1.92).
The Transport and Logistics Bureau on Wednesday suggested increasing private car fees for both the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Harbour Tunnel from HK$20 and HK$25 respectively to HK$30, while lowering the toll for the most expensive crossing, the Western Harbour Tunnel, from HK$75 to HK$60.
In the counterproposal floated by C15+, a coalition formed by 14 unaffiliated lawmakers, car tolls for the Western Harbour Tunnel would be cut from HK$75 to HK$60 during morning and afternoon rush hours, and to HK$30 between 10am and 5pm.
While Cross-Harbour and Eastern tunnel fees would remain at HK$20 and HK$25 respectively from 7am to 8pm, the lawmakers suggested aligning the tolls at HK$15 for all three from 8pm to 7am.
Lawmaker Kitson Yang Wing-kit, of the coalition, explained that as the Western tunnel had been near capacity during peak hours, road networks around it could be overwhelmed with a narrower difference in peak-hour tolls.
He said room to divert traffic away from the other two tunnels only existed outside the busiest hours.
“The talk of balancing peak-hour traffic is a false premise,” Yang said. “The only truly meaningful diversion of traffic can only be achieved with a fourth harbour crossing.”
Stephen Cheung Yan-leung, chairman of the Transport Advisory Committee, echoed Yang’s view in a radio programme on Thursday morning.
“Many people are talking about building a fourth tunnel,” Cheung said. “I think the government is working on it, but it will take time. So how about the next few years? We still need a solution now.”