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Friday, Jun 21, 2024

Traffic industry frets over unfair charges as cross-harbor tunnel tolls adjusted

Traffic industry frets over unfair charges as cross-harbor tunnel tolls adjusted

Traffic industry veterans are worried about the varying tolls for Hong Kong’s three cross-harbor tunnels that would burden motorists financially and worsen traffic congestion.
The government announced on Wednesday morning the new arrangements for rationalizing traffic in the city’s three cross-harbor tunnels - Eastern Harbor Crossing (EHC) and Cross-Harbor Tunnel (CHT), and Western Harbor Crossing (WHC) - including adjusting the tolls from August and issuing a "time-varying tolls" mechanism this year.

Under the new arrangement, the "time-varying tolls" mechanism will charge private cars HK$60 for WHC and HK$40 for CHT and EHC, respectively, during the peak hours from Monday to Saturday to "reduce traffic congestion."

However, Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun argued that the toll gaps among the three tunnels are "unfair."

"Narrowing the toll gaps would be more helpful to improve the traffic conditions, in fact," Tien said.

He suggested that the toll for WHC should be HK$50 and HK$35 for the other two tunnels.

"What the government is supposed to do is improve public transportation to convert people from driving private cars," Tien said.

He added the earlier request for fare increases raised by the city’s bus operators was "forcing citizens to choose to drive private cars."

In addition, the Federation of Hong Kong Transportation and Logistics Industry Unions argued that setting a standardized toll of HK$50 for non-private vehicles traveling through three tunnels was a "de-facto increase in the tolls for tunnels."

"Charges for commercial vehicles, like minibuses, traveling through CHT will see a four-time increase," said the federation, "while goods trucks weighing under 5.5 tons will have the toll up by more than two times and goods trucks between 5.5 and 24 tons will see a 1.5-time increase in toll."

"This is a heavy burden," the federation noted.

However, Citybus and New World First Bus favored the new toll standard of HK$50.

It would benefit around 70 routes of cross-harbor buses to reduce the cost, said the two bus operators, adding about 80 percent of passengers would choose to take buses to cross Victoria Harbor.

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