The toll for private cars crossing the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge could be set below HK$100 for a one-way trip, the secretary for transport and housing has said.
Tolls would be as low as possible, Eva Cheng said, adding that the government was not aiming to use road charges to cover the huge construction cost.
'Our target is simple. Tolls will be set at levels sufficient to repay bank loans and support daily maintenance costs of the bridge,' the minister said on a radio programme yesterday.
'The higher the traffic flow, the lower the bridge toll. The proposed lowest toll for private cars can be set below HK$100 while another proposal suggests a level around HK$100.'
Ms Cheng was confident that a switch from a model under which the three regional governments would cover any shortfall between building costs and private investments to government financing would secure lower tolls.
She said final charges would be decided by representatives from the three governments, taking into account interest on bank loans.
A Hong Kong-Guangdong expert group will meet next month to study the possibility of issuing short-term private car licences.
Ms Cheng said factors to consider were emission requirements, insurance and road capacities in different places. A pilot scheme could be launched at the Western Corridor within a year, she said.
The minister also said the bridge would generate huge economic benefits and create 11,000 jobs.
Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong will advertise tenders for the bridge's design tomorrow. Ms Cheng said she hoped the work could begin next year instead of 2010 as originally planned.