Committee backs $25 tunnel fee for cabs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 12:00am

The Transport Advisory Committee has backed the taxi trade's proposal to raise the return fare for cabs using the eastern and western harbour tunnels to $25, in line with the expected toll increase for the eastern crossing.

Committee chairwoman Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said the increase would give drivers more leeway in choosing which tunnel to use on their return trip.

'The driver can choose the tunnel of their choice for the return trip because the fare will help pay for the toll even if they are not able to pick up a passenger on their way back,' she said.

Taxi drivers can only charge passengers an extra $15 for their return trip after crossing the western and eastern harbour tunnels. Some drivers had previously said they lost money because the fare did not cover the full toll amount in the case of the western tunnel.

The proposal will be presented to lawmakers during a transport panel meeting on Friday. It could be implemented as soon as July 1, when the new toll for the eastern tunnel comes into effect for taxis.

Legislators will also review 12 options for easing tunnel traffic after the toll on the eastern tunnel is raised on May 1.

Ms Cheng said it was too early for the committee to narrow down which measures would be the most feasible in easing tunnel traffic congestion.

But she suggested the winning solution must benefit the public as a whole, be fair to taxpayers and lower congestion.

She said the government must ensure the Cross-Harbour Tunnel would receive a reasonable valuation when discussing possible franchise transfer options with the tunnel operators.

Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao Sau-tung yesterday said the government had an open mind on all the 12 measures and that some could be implemented sooner than others.