Anger as tunnel's toll-free day brings traffic to a halt

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 May, 1997, 12:00am

Traffic came to a standstill yesterday as tens of thousands of motorists took advantage of the Western Harbour Tunnel's no toll day.

The normal $30 rate was waived for 24 hours to encourage drivers to familiarise themselves with access and exit routes to the crossing, which opened last week.

But operators came under fire after so many vehicles took to the roads that traffic was jammed solid.

Some 105,000 cars had gone through the $7.5 billion two-kilometre tunnel by midnight.

District representatives called on officials not to repeat the exercise on May 18 to avoid similar congestion.

Central and Western District Board chairman Yuen Bun-keung said: 'If it's publicity they want, they've got it now. I don't think drivers and residents want to see something like this again.' Legislative Council's transport panel vice-chairman Zachary Wong Wai-yin agreed.

He said tunnel management and the Government appeared not to have a well-prepared road plan because the tunnel was opened three months ahead of schedule.

'If the number of cars passing through today was at or below the 180,000 daily limit, then we have a serious problem because they can't even deal within the limit,' he said.

But a tunnel spokesman said they still intended to go ahead with another toll free day on May 18.