Only a stop-gap measure
I REFER to the letter from Mr Gary Kwong Kwok-hong, published in the South China Morning Post on May 5, in which he queried why Hong Kong-bound auto toll users are given priority at the Cross Harbour Tunnel entrance during morning peak hours.
The number of vehicles using Autopass at the Cross Harbour Tunnel, has been increasing steadily since its introduction and has now reached a level where the single southbound auto toll lane now processes twice as many vehicles per hour during the peak period as it did when operated manually.
However, the higher throughput is having an adverse impact on the movement of franchised buses, particularly at the entrance and exit of the southbound bus bay.
The auto toll lane is their sole means of access to the tunnel, therefore, congestion in the lane inevitably inhibits their journey.
In addition, the build-back of vehicles waiting to enter the auto toll lane and the bus bay can reach such numbers that non-tunnel traffic routes outside of the tunnel area become congested.
In order to provide immediate relief to these problems and to minimise delay to the many passengers travelling by bus, Tunnel Traffic Officers operate a priority procedure at the tunnel entrance by halting, or directing to the right, all non-auto toll lane traffic.
The duration of each diversion or stoppage is very brief, around 20 to 30 seconds, sufficient to ease the pressure on the auto toll lane.
This arrangement is only a stop-gap measure, the real solution being to open an additional southbound auto toll lane.
Equipment is already in place in a second southbound lane, which can be brought into service as soon as the Commissioner for Transport gives his agreement to its opening.
It is anticipated that once opened, this second auto toll lane will alleviate the problems currently being experienced.
D. A. REID Tunnel Manager Cross Harbour Tunnel Co Ltd