Pampered students from well-off families do not need private cars to get to and from school
With limited road space, Hong Kong has a world-class public transport system that can easily cater to the needs of pupils and their parents
Traffic jams are hardly unusual in Hong Kong. For a small city, where roads are narrow and vehicles aplenty, hardly a day goes by without commuters getting caught in traffic. But we are not talking about the long queues on each side of the main cross-harbour tunnel or the gridlock caused by chauffeur-driven limousines in the heart of Central district.
The congestion arising from parents driving children to schools has long been an issue of concern in some districts. The Harrow International School in Tuen Mun is the latest example. Since its opening in 2012, hundreds of private vehicles converge in the area during the morning rush hour, causing queues as long as one kilometre. The number of complaints by local residents is also said to be on the rise.
Some parents insist they have as much right to use the road as local residents. But for those who have to put up with congestion caused by vehicles from outside the area, their frustration is understandable.
The inclusion of new facilities inevitably adds to the traffic burden in the area. It makes sense for the school to introduce measures to ease the congestion, such as reducing the number of permits for vehicles entering the campus and requiring all new pupils living near the routes to take school buses from next year. The measures are worthy of consideration. But they should be implemented on a fair basis.
The phenomenon is not unique to Harrow. Districts dotted with schools for well-off families, such as Braemar Hill, Kowloon Tong and Southern district have long been experiencing the same problem. The school authorities should discourage parents from driving their children to school. It is also the government’s responsibility to review the traffic conditions and take steps to ease congestion.
The burden can also be relieved if parents are willing to cooperate. Given the city’s efficient transport system, students don’t need private cars to get to school.