Plea to take bus or train as tunnel jams loom

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2005, 12:00am

Traffic at the Eastern Harbour Tunnel plunged by 45 per cent yesterday, the second day after tolls increased, stoking fears of traffic jams today at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel as motorists return to work after the long weekend.

With major congestion expected during peak hours at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, the cheapest of the three tunnels, Deputy Commissioner for Transport Lau Ka-keung made his final plea to commuters to take public transport to avoid being stuck in the jams.

'Obviously, motorists have changed their driving habits. We predict that traffic will be very heavy. We urge the public to use public transport,' he said.

From midnight Sunday to 8pm yesterday, 25,600 fewer vehicles used the eastern tunnel than on previous public holidays, a drop of 47 per cent. This followed a 39 per cent fall in traffic on Sunday, when the toll rise came into effect.

Traffic at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel fell by 5,800 vehicles, or 6 per cent, yesterday after rising 5 per cent on Sunday, but 650 more cars used the Western Harbour Tunnel, boosting the traffic there by 3 per cent.

Overall usage of the three tunnels was down 17.7 per cent on a typical public holiday.

Despite the change in traffic patterns, Polytechnic University transport expert Hung Wing-tat said congestion might not be that serious today.

'There have been many warnings - I don't think it will be that bad. People are psychologically prepared for this,' he said.

Motorists are advised to leave home earlier and to check on the latest traffic updates on radio, the traffic phone hotline at 1823 or the Transport Department website at