Slow-drive protest at toll rises

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 July, 2004, 12:00am

Car owners hammered home their opposition to the Western Harbour Tunnel toll increases with a slow-drive protest yesterday.

A fleet of 45 private cars left Tsing Yi at 10am and arrived at the harbour tunnel's toll collection station at noon. The protesters then handed a statement letter to a representative of the Western Harbour Tunnel Company.

The protesters, who dispersed after refusing to pay the higher $40 fee to use the tunnel, staged their action on the first day of the toll increase coming into force.

Toll increases range from $3 to $15 for all vehicles except taxis.

The company said the toll adjustment was required because of an increase in operational costs.

Motorists said the rise from $37 to $40 for a one-way trip for private cars would not boost business in the under-used tunnel but reduce the number of drivers.

'This morning I saw an obvious drop in vehicles passing through the tunnel,' said protest organiser Chan Yung, chief executive of the New Territories Association of Societies. Mr Chan said the 'unwise measure' would not ease the traffic pressures on the Hunghom tunnel, which charges private cars $20 for a one-way trip.

This objection was echoed by minibus drivers, who issued a letter of condemnation to voice their anger at a 'heartless toll raise'.

Minibuses must pay an extra $3, taking the toll to $50.

Lai Ming-hung, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Public Light Bus Owners and Drivers Association, said its members would suffer from the increase. He said light bus drivers would lose at least $1,000 in monthly income. 'If we don't increase fares, we lose money; if we do, we see fewer passengers.'