Support for increase in tunnel toll

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 July, 2008, 12:00am

The Transport Advisory Committee has proposed that the government accept a toll-rise application from the loss-making Tate's Cairn Tunnel, a source close to the committee said yesterday.

No figures were given but the source said the increase would be less than the 13 to 28 per cent sought by the operator, which would have boosted the toll for private cars from HK$12 to HK$15.

The Transport and Housing Bureau had earlier told the Legislative Council transport panel meeting that the government would consider extending the tunnel operator's franchise - due to expire in 10 years - in exchange for lower toll rises.

But the source said such an option was of very low priority as the tunnel had low patronage, meaning its fare rise would have relatively little social impact. 'The increase can't be too high anyway as the operator has so many competitors, so why not get it over with for the next 10 years and get the [tunnel's] ownership back quickly? After that the government can fix whatever tolls.'

Lion Rock Tunnel, Tai Po Road and the recently opened Route 8 are all cheaper alternatives to Tate's Cairn Tunnel for motorists commuting between Sha Tin and Kowloon East. Tate's Cairn has an average daily patronage of 54,672 vehicles - the lowest of the four privately owned tunnels.

The Tate's Cairn Tunnel Company began making an operating profit in 2000, but its shareholders will only overcome accumulated losses of HK$53 million this year.

The panel also discussed fare rises sought by Lantau and urban taxis.