PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2008, 12:00am

What do you think of the Western Harbour Tunnel toll rise?

Your editorial ('Time to end gridlock on tunnel traffic', January 5), though timely, will fall on deaf ears.

Our government, it seems, is waiting for the congestion at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel to become really chaotic before it considers taking any serious steps.

Giving approval to increase tolls at the Western Harbour Tunnel again is like feeding a lazy fat man (without a Legco debate), who hardly feels the need to make a real effort to earn more. And yet our government was willing to approve the rise, without any real resistance, on the grounds of economic viability.

Neither senior transport officials nor the tunnel company seem to realise that, with the new toll (HK$45 for private cars), fewer vehicles will use the tunnel.

If the toll was cut drastically, to say HK$25, more cars would use the tunnel and this would generate more income. That would ease congestion and the dreadful pollution our government claims it wants to tackle.

However, with the tolls going up by 15 per cent on Monday, more drivers will find it too expensive.

During the World Trade Organisation conference in 2005, our government enforced reduced tolls at the western and eastern harbour crossings, and traffic ran smoothly. This proves the government lacks sincerity when it comes to tackling the problem.

If tolls were cut, then the government might not even have to introduce electronic road pricing, as even during peak hours the western crossing is underused.

Even residents of nearby developments, such as the Waterfront and Sorrento, do not feel they can justify paying such high tolls.

A.L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui

While I agree with your editorial recommending adjustment of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel tolls ('Time to end gridlock on tunnel traffic', January 5), I believe the holistic approach you refer to should come first.

This would require that the apples-and-oranges mix of transport and housing in the government organisation structure be split, with transport receiving proper emphasis.

Once that is accomplished, the government should splash out some of its enormous reserves to buy out all the privately owned tunnels and crossings and place them under unified management, as with the MTR and KCR corporations.

This would permit the toll adjustments you recommend, plus more.

Why not increase tolls sufficiently to provide cash flow to subsidise mass transit? Certainly, investing Hong Kong funds at home should receive priority.

Beyond this is the possibility of collecting round-trip tolls at the Kowloon end and dispensing with toll collection the other way on all three tunnels, as in the New York-New Jersey Hudson River crossings (two tunnels and four bridges). This immediately allows for the redeployment of half the toll collectors and supervisors, and improved traffic flow when the toll booths are removed.

Rationalising the Lion Rock and Tate's Cairn tunnels could come later.

As all these approaches are primarily administrative and financial, they can be implemented in minimal time if the will is present.

How about it, Exco and Legco? Who will take the lead in improving the transport situation?

Henry L. Parsont, Sha Tin

What do you think about sex education in Hong Kong?

The problem of teenage pregnancy is serious in Hong Kong.

It is natural for teenagers to be curious about sex, and they are often confused about the subject. This is especially so if they are not given proper sex education.

Some of the stories and articles in newspapers and magazines on sexual matters convey the wrong information, which can mislead teenagers.

They can also be subjected to peer pressure and do what their peers do, because they want to be accepted.

To try to curb the problem of teenage pregnancy, something should be done before it is too late.

As some teenagers are getting involved in sexual relationships at an earlier age, sex education should be taught as early as Primary Five or Primary Six.

Parents are often so busy with their jobs that they do not have time to talk with their children about sex.

However, they have a very important role to play and they must talk to their children about the subject.

More talks or workshops should be organised to teach parents how to initiate a conversation with their children about sex.

They need help in this respect, because sex has been a taboo subject in Chinese society.

Cheung Celia Ka-yin, Kowloon Tong

What do you think about teenagers' attitudes to sex?

Surely our teenagers should be complimented on their choosing (as some do) to wait until they are married before embarking on an active sex life.

If they choose to respect themselves and each other, thereby avoiding the problems and stigma associated with unwanted pregnancies, abortion or sexually transmitted diseases, good on them.

Many other countries have the opposite problem to us and, as a result, their societies are in worse condition than ours.

Well done our teens.

Wailai Ti-lai, Lantau

On other matters ...

We thank your correspondent Raymond Lai for his comments on his experiences at The Peak Tram (Talkback, January 3).

We apologise for any inconvenience caused to him.

During weekends and public holidays The Peak Tram experiences very high demand from residents and tourists. During these times we increase the frequency of the tram, install additional queue management barriers and add additional manpower in the areas of ticket sales and crowd management. Our primary focus is the safety and enjoyment of all our visitors.

We will continue to evaluate and where possible improve the orderly boarding of passengers on the platform to try to minimise people's enthusiasm to board the tram quickly.

We are grateful to your reader for his feedback and look forward to serving him and his family again at The Peak Tram.

May Tsang, deputy general manager, The Peak Tramways Company Limited