Cab Chat

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 May, 2005, 12:00am

Chung Hop, 52, wants the government to install timers at traffic lights to make it easier to know when a light will turn red.

From Quarry Bay to Tuen Mun

Fare: $335

My business has dropped by 15 to 20 per cent since the new toll on the Eastern Harbour came into effect. Most of my customers have switched to the MTR. They only go home by taxi one or two days a week. Paying $10 more every day is a lot when you add it up over a month.

The new toll not only limits consumers' choice of transport, it also hurts our business. The congestion problem at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel will never be solved because of its convenient location. I think the government should think of some new measures to solve the uneven distribution of traffic in the three tunnels.

I think the government has a lot to learn from the mainland in improving the traffic system. There are timers attached to all traffic lights in Shenzhen and Guangzhou and many other cities on the mainland. Drivers can clearly see how many seconds are left before the yellow light turns to red.

The timing information is important for drivers to decide if they can drive on or have to slow down. The government wants to impose heavier punishment on drivers who jump red lights, but it never introduces any measures to help us. It is very simple. All it has to do is to install timers.

Another thing I think the Transport Department should do is give us more detailed information about traffic flow. Traffic news is too vague. It only tells us which roads are congested and information about traffic accidents.

It should include more information about where the traffic tails off in case of a jam and tell us how much time is needed to travel through the congested area to smooth traffic. It does not have to be exact; the department only has to provide an estimated time. Just like when you see a long queue at a bank, you have to decide if you want to join it or leave. And a small plastic board is put right beside the queue which tells you how long it will take to get to the counter.

The Transport Department should also install more cameras so that it can monitor traffic all over Hong Kong. Now we have to rely on ourselves. If a taxi driver sees anything unusual like an accident or a traffic jam, he will inform the control room to spread the news to other taxi drivers.

But other drivers have to rely on radio news, which often fails to provide news about what happens in blind spots, as government cameras do not cover these areas.

The government always claims this is an international city. Our traffic system is even worse than the mainland. The government should really do something to tackle congestion problems fast. What will a tourist think if he or she is trapped in a traffic jam for hours? This leaves a very bad impression.

I think the bus companies should consider installing communication equipment or radios so drivers can also be updated about the traffic.

I understand buses must run on the same routes and they cannot switch to other roads. But if there are traffic jams, bus drivers should enjoy some flexibility. If they have access to the most updated news about traffic flow or accidents, they should be allowed to switch to other routes.

I am sure passengers will be very happy about that, as no one wants to get stuck in a jam.

It is also easier for bus drivers to contact their company for backup support if anything goes wrong with the bus.

I know that bus drivers have to ask passengers to get off and stand on the road to wait for another bus in case of an emergency, such as if they cannot get the engine started.

Bus drivers have to rely on their own mobile phones to call for help.

This is very dangerous if the bus is travelling along a highway, as we often see passengers standing on a highway waiting for another bus that runs the same route to pick them up.