Tunnel operators seek toll rise, but impact on drivers is unclear
The operators of the Western Harbour and Tai Lam tunnels have asked for permission to raise their maximum tolls, but said they did not yet intend to pass the increase on to the public, officials said.
Government sources said the Western Harbour Tunnel Company and Route 3 (CPS) Company submitted their accounts to the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau for auditing, along with a request that their maximum allowable toll be adjusted to give them greater flexibility.
Under existing legislation, the two companies are eligible for an automatic increase in tolls if government audits find actual revenue for a particular year was lower than the amount contractually allowed to them.
This contrasts with the Eastern Harbour crossing, for which a more complicated application procedure to increase tolls is required involving approval from both the Transport Advisory Committee and the Executive Council.
For the Western Harbour and Tai Lam tunnels, the maximum toll may be raised, but sources said it was not clear whether users would be asked to pay more.
'The operators haven't said what they planned to do yet,' a government spokeswoman said.
'An increase only gives them the right to increase the tolls, but they may decide not to charge users to the full limit.'
The current maximum toll for the Western Harbour Tunnel is $50 per trip for a private car, but under the current concessionary tolls, users are only charged $37 per trip. The next projected maximum toll is $60 per trip for a private car.
Anita Lee, a spokeswoman for Route 3 (CPS) Company, said there was 'no intention to raise the tolls'.
'We have written to the government to reserve the right to do so,' she said. 'But in fact, our present tolls have not reached the maximum allowed. Whether we raise tolls depends on the market conditions.'