Environment

Aiming for cleaner public transport

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 1:51am

I refer to the article from Richard R. Vuylsteke, president of the American Chamber of Commerce ("Congestion, roadside pollution are choking development", January 16).

All along, our strategy is to provide a safe, efficient and reliable transport system.

On roads, car journey speeds and fleet size are regularly monitored. We have implemented fiscal measures to control car growth and Hong Kong is now one of the few cities that has comparatively very low car ownership (about 14 per cent of households own private cars). While there is room for improvement in containing and reducing congestion, our road journey speeds compare favourably with major cities, including London that has a congestion charging scheme.

About 90 per cent of the trips in Hong Kong are made using public transport. This percentage is one of the world's highest. We are expanding our railway network. Five more railway lines are scheduled for commissioning from 2014 to 2020. Upon completion, more than 70 per cent of our population will be brought into the railway catchment area.

On bus services, the chief executive in his policy address has reaffirmed that we will proceed vigorously with bus service rationalisation complemented by improved interchange service. The objective is threefold - to enable public transport modes to be used efficiently, to reduce road congestion, and to reduce emissions. In 2012, we reduced more than 1,200 bus trips in Central, Causeway Bay and Nathan Road. We have also been increasing the ratio of low-emission franchised buses (Euro IV or above) running in busy corridors. We encourage franchised bus companies to reduce emissions, including by retrofitting an emission reduction device on their buses.

The government will fund the procurement of six hybrid buses and 36 electric buses for trial by franchised bus firms.

Hong Kong has invested considerably in technology to help traffic management. Currently, 95 per cent of the junctions with signals in Hong Kong are operated under area traffic control systems. Traffic control and surveillance facilities such as CCTV cameras, variable message signs and lane control signals have been or are being installed at tunnels and bridges and some strategic routes.

We are installing five speed map panels in the New Territories for launching early this year to inform motorists of prevailing traffic conditions.

It has always been our top priority to build and manage an efficient and green transport system. We always keep an open mind to new and constructive ideas raised by the public.

Anthony Loo Khim-chung, assistant commissioner for transport (planning)