We can clean up the air by making Autotoll compulsory for drivers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 May, 2010, 12:00am

The government should be following the example of Singapore and making it compulsory for all vehicle owners to have Autotoll without any extra charge. In Singapore it works with a card similar to Octopus which is easy to recharge.

This is also the case in the US and most European cities. The system we have here wastes time and causes congestion and pollution. With the simpler system, there is a smooth flow of traffic, and congestion and pollution levels are reduced.

I have made these points before, through these columns, but they have fallen on deaf ears.

During the World Trade Organisation's conference in Hong Kong in 2005, the tolls at all three harbour tunnels were the same. There was a smooth flow of traffic and drivers were happy. But the government did not learn from this. Tunnel companies keep raising the tolls.

I entirely agree with A. W. Holloway ('Autotoll operator is hardly making its service more attractive to drivers', May 16).

The Autotoll company charges fees with the blessing of our government. It talks about curbing pollution but does not practise what it preaches. As your correspondent rightly said, only 34 per cent of vehicle owners have joined the Autotoll scheme because it is so unattractive. It charges a fee plus asking for an advance payment of HK$500 which I have to pay. Subsequently, it is a cash-rich company.

The Transport Department seems to want to close its eyes to the obvious problems. For the last four decades the Cross-Harbour Tunnel at Hung Hom has been heavily congested. However, the Western Harbour Tunnel is like a three-lane bowling ally and yet tolls go up every few years and are much higher than the Hung Hom crossing.

I am dismayed that transport officials do not appear to be concerned with this state of affairs.

This kind of attitude along with the proposed idling engine legislation with petty fines of HK$320, shows there is a lack of sincerity on the part of government when it comes to fighting pollution.

Your correspondent is right to say that it looks as if someone is asleep at the wheel.

A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui