Friday, March 1, 2024
Home Travel Have new tolls got Hong Kong out of a jam? Traffic congestion at busiest harbour tunnel cut by 1km, more vehicles opt for Western crossing

Have new tolls got Hong Kong out of a jam? Traffic congestion at busiest harbour tunnel cut by 1km, more vehicles opt for Western crossing

by Staff

The department said that based on data on the first four days of the new tolls, more vehicles opted for the more expensive Western crossing, while fewer cars used the busiest Cross-Harbour Tunnel and the Eastern one.

Future Hong Kong toll changes to be double checked by authorities: transport chief

Between December 18 and 21, the average daily traffic volume at the Western crossing jumped 15 per cent to 102,100 vehicles from 88,900 earlier in the month.

Daily average traffic at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel shrank 12 per cent to 93,500 vehicles during the four-day period from 106,600 previously, and at the Eastern crossing declined 6 per cent to 74,600 from 79,700.

Overall cross-harbour traffic during peak hours, when tolls are at their most expensive, dropped by about 5 per cent.

However, the department only provided data from one random day before the new tolls kicked in, citing the normal vehicle volume as a baseline without traffic accidents and major disruptions.

Legislator Gary Zhang Xinyu, a motorist, has said the Cross-Harbour Tunnel is no longer congested under the new toll arrangements, even during peak hours. Photo: Facebook/Gary Zhang

Legislator Gary Zhang Xinyu, a motorist, said the Cross-Harbour Tunnel was no longer congested under the new toll arrangements even during peak hours, but further analysis was needed to determine the success of traffic diversion across the three crossings.

“The authorities need to provide more data, particularly focusing on the proportion of reduced traffic during peak hours and increased traffic during non-peak hours, which is crucial to assess whether there have been changes in drivers’ commuting habits to determine if the new arrangements have effectively diverted traffic,” he said.

“These changes cannot be accurately observed with the naked eye within a few weeks and it is essential to gather and analyse comprehensive data over an extended period to make a reliable assessment.

“They also need to compare the current cross-harbour vehicle volume with the ones in the same period a few years back.”

Hong Kong police to investigate if tunnel overcharging incident was deliberate

Under the time-varying tolls arrangement, private cars are charged up to HK$40 (US$5) at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and the Eastern crossing during peak hours from 7.30am to 10.15am and from 4.30pm to 7pm between Mondays and Saturdays. At the Western Harbour Tunnel, charges can reach up to HK$60.

The fees progressively increase by HK$2 every two minutes from a peak-hour slot up to the maximum amount. The opposite arrangement occurs for off-peak periods.

All three tunnels charge HK$30 for private cars between 10.15am and 4.30pm and HK$20 for off-peak hours from 7pm to the following 7.30am.

Phase one of the toll changes came into force on August 2 when tolls were lowered at the Western Harbour Tunnel and increased at the two busier tunnels.

Hong Kong minibus passengers and operators hit out at tunnels’ toll increases

Taxi driver Tony Lai Shiu-ki, 43, said the smooth traffic flow might not solely be attributed to the new toll arrangements as pupils had school holidays and many residents travelled abroad before Christmas.

“During normal school days, buses and school coaches are always jamming the left two lanes on the Kowloon side of the Cross Harbour Tunnel. Analysis should be conducted on regular work and school days on different periods to reflect the actual situation,” Lai said.

Ringo Lee Yiu-pui, honorary life president of the Hong Kong Automobile Association, said it took him six to seven minutes to pass through the Cross-Harbour Tunnel from Hung Hom on weekdays during the morning peak hour over the past two weeks.

“Previously, it would take me about 17 to 18 minutes due to traffic congestion that often started before reaching Wuhu Street, creating a bottleneck. You don’t see a queue there now,” Lee said.

He said fixed tolls for commercial vehicles played a bigger role in alleviating congestion than the time-varying fees during peak hours.

Traffic jams at 2 Hong Kong tunnels will shrink after toll changes: authorities

The all-day toll for taxis is HK$25 at the three crossings, while other commercial vehicles, including public light buses and buses, are charged HK$50.

“If drivers need to commute through a certain tunnel during busy morning hours due to work, they are unlikely to switch to another tunnel simply because the toll is lower,” Lee said.

“Commercial vehicles with more flexibility on fixed tolls may not choose the Cross-Harbour Tunnel due to pricing concerns. It helps divert traffic away from it.”

As of last October, Hong Kong had 814,616 licensed vehicles, 71 per cent or 577,357 of which were private cars.

Leave a Comment

Copyright ©️ All rights reserved. | Tourism Trends