Bridge will require massive toll subsidies just to break even

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 March, 2008, 12:00am

It was very interesting to read Jake van der Kamp's Monitor column ('Bridge to Nevernever Land doesn't add up', March 3), about the economics of the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge.

I am also opposed to this bridge, but after reading this column even more so.

According to van der Kamp, to make the bridge profitable, the operator needs to make HK$13.15 million per day after costs. I will take this for granted.

Now, according to the Hong Kong government, there were 14.7 million vehicle trips across the border in 2005.

With the rigid licensing system I don't see much increase possible in this number. This amounts to an average of 40,274 trips per day.

Now if all those trips are now suddenly made on the new bridge, this means each driver will have to pay a toll of HK$327 per trip.

That is HK$654 per return trip. Trucks of course will have a higher toll, passenger cars less.

This toll does not include the Lantau Link toll for trucks coming from the container port.

It is more realistic to assume that the bridge can attract about 10,000 vehicle movements per day; that would amount to a quarter of our cross-border traffic.

Even that number would be a surprise to me, considering the competition with cheap and efficient high-speed ferries for passenger traffic and the barges for container movements. And the resulting toll of on average HK$1,315 per trip, HK$2,650 for a return trip, will kill off the rest of the traffic.

So the only way to make this bridge work will be to have the governments pay about 90 per cent of the construction cost.

Hong Kong has to shoulder 50.2 per cent of that, meaning - at an estimated construction cost of HK$60 billion - we are going to pay HK$27.1 billion.

That is almost HK$4,000 per head of the population - elderly, domestic helpers and babies included.

Can anyone please put an end to this kind of ridiculous waste? One Western Corridor is enough, thank you very much.

Wouter van Marle, Hung Hom