Traffic chaos predicted if Central bypass is halted

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 October, 2003, 12:00am

But a transport expert says officials need to consider 'more creative policies'

In eight years, a drive from Kennedy Town to Central could take 20 minutes if reclamation work for the planned Central-Wan Chai bypass is stopped, a government study says.

The High Court today will hear an application from the Society for the Protection of the Harbour seeking to stop the controversial Central reclamation project. A Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau spokesman said that according to its traffic studies, a drive from Kennedy Town to Central would increase from three minutes to 20 minutes if the bypass cannot be completed in 2011.

The Environment, Transport and Works Bureau also said the traffic jams between Gloucester Road and Connaught Road in Central would be serious by 2016 if the bypass was not built.

It said the government's traffic jam index - which is used as a measure of vehicle congestion - for Gloucester Road would jump from 1 at present to 1.2 in 2011 and 1.3 in 2016 if the bypass did not exist. However, the index would just be 0.9 by 2011 if the highway was built.

But transport expert Hung Wing-tat, of the Polytechnic University, said Hong Kong should not use a demand-driven approach on transport planning.

He said the government 'should have more creative policies on managing traffic'.

'Many big cities in the world use administrative measures to control the traffic flow and there are plenty of methods the government can adopt,' Dr Hung said.

Singapore's electronic road-pricing system charges motorists entering the city centre during peak hours.

A similar system was adopted to ease traffic in central London, with an average of 20 per cent less traffic entering the centre since the charge was imposed.

The Shanghai government also controls traffic by allowing only taxis with even-number licence plates to enter busy areas on even-numbered dates, and taxis with odd-number plates to enter on odd-numbered dates.

'The problem in Central is that many people travel there to work, especially the senior executives, who do not like walking even though the journey is just within Central,' Dr Hung said.

'Managing traffic can upset many people with a vested interest, while building new roads is the easiest way because it is only at the expense of the quiet majority - those who pay their tax but rely on public transport.'