TWO of the 14 toll lanes of the Eastern Harbour Tunnel will be converted to autopass lanes this year.
The system, to be supplied and administered by the Autopass Company, will require motorists to pay a $20 monthly administration fee and a minimum $500 deposit. Details will be finalised next month.
Autopass, which supplied the same system to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, will give subscribers free tags and there will be one lane in each direction.
It has been suggested that the automatic system will help create a cleaner environment and ease traffic congestion.
But Eastern Harbour Tunnel general manager Alex Chan Sing-cheung said the automatic toll collection was simply to save motorists looking for change.
'Some people would like to pay by cash but some like to do it in a more convenient way.' He did not think autopass would affect the cleanliness of the air.
However, the Labour Department supports the system for environmental reasons.
Senior occupational hygienist Tsin Tai-wa said the start-up action of vehicles created the highest concentration of air-pollutants. Air in autopass lanes was therefore cleaner than other lanes.
The Cross-Harbour Tunnel has two autopass lanes in each direction. The American system cost over $15 million to install and about 30,000 vehicles, mostly private cars, have subscribed to the system.
Tunnel manager David Reid said a high volume of traffic used the autopass lanes, but manual toll collection would remain because some motorists chose to use it.
Mr Reid said the lanes did not greatly ease the traffic flow and the Government also ruled out the possibility of encouraging installation of more of the lanes.
'It's the capacity of the tunnel that counts. The vehicles are all stuck inside the tunnel,' a transport officer said.