Autopass fee justifiable
I REFER to the letter from Paul E. Wheatley, headlined, 'Make autotoll cheaper' (South China Morning Post, September 26), in which he raises two issues, viz, the effect of the autotoll system on traffic throughput and the cost to the motorist of using the system.
Concerning throughput at the Cross Harbour Tunnel the Autopass system now accounts for about 25 per cent of all transactions and, during peak hours, the total number of vehicles using the auto lanes exceeds the combined capacity of the lanes in manual mode. It is not suggested, however, that Autopass will make the traffic queues disappear.
As long as traffic volume exceeds the ability of the tunnel to absorb it, there will be congestion at the entrances, (the Hong Kong entrance, where there are no toll booths, being a case in point).
Nevertheless, vehicles equipped with an Autopass tag can pass through quicker and the convenience of driving through without stopping or having to look for the toll fee must not be overlooked. This additional service, however, requires a substantial investment in equipment, staff, licensing fees and many other expenses, which necessitates the charging of a monthly administration fee to offset these costs.
The Autopass system is now available in the Lion Rock Tunnel, in addition to the Cross Harbour and Aberdeen Tunnels and an increasing number of drivers using the service accept that the monthly charge represents value for money. This will become more evident as plans for expansion to more tunnels, car-parks and related facilities are realised.
D. A. REID Tunnel Manager The Cross-Harbour Tunnel Co. Ltd