Just wave your toll goodbye at tunnels

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 March, 2013, 4:23am

Contactless electronic payments may be accepted at toll tunnels and roads by 2016, under a new government proposal.

However, there are fears the cost of the HK$45.5 million project to enable payment by Octopus and other smart cards will be passed on to the public.

That new technology would cover all the 72 manual toll booths at the five government toll tunnels - Aberdeen Tunnel, Cross-Harbour Tunnel, Lion Rock Tunnel, the Shing Mun Tunnels and Tseung Kwun O Tunnel - and two government toll roads - Lantau Link and Tsing Sha Highway.

The proposal will be discussed in the Legislative Council panel on transport on Friday. The government plans to start the project in June and complete it by May 2016.

Under the plan, motorists will choose between manual toll lanes and autolanes.

At manual lanes, there will also be the option of paying by waving contactless smart cards, including Visa Paywave and MasterCard Paypass cards, over the readers.

Government officials say the technology will address public requests for a faster, more convenient payment system.

However, wording of the proposal suggested an impending rise in tolls.

The document said: "The operating cost of government tolled tunnels and roads should be recovered through the toll charges."

Ringo Lee Yiu-pui, chairman of the Institute of the Motor Industry Association, said he supported the e-payment facilities only if the costs were not passed on to drivers.

"The usage rate of the toll tunnels and roads will be higher and less manpower is needed for collecting the fees," he said.

"Car parks did not increase parking fees after Octopus card readers were installed. Their operation costs went down because no toll collector is needed to man the booths."

Lee also said the government would need to better educate road users on the new contactless toll system.