Last-minute toll concessions are being negotiated for Route Three amid fears cash-strapped motorists may avoid the new $7.25 billion expressway. The 10-km country park section of the route, which includes the 3.8-km Tai Lam Tunnel, is expected to slash peak hour trips between Yuen Long and Central by two-thirds when it opens on Monday. Transport officials and Route Three management hope to stop a repeat of problems facing the under-used Western Harbour Crossing, which costs $30. They plan a publicity blitz, a freeze on the $15 toll and discounts. But Transport Department officials admitted traffic flow might not meet the 130,000-vehicle daily projection made before the economic downturn. Chief Engineer (New Territories west) Lee Yan-ming said the department had installed more than 120 signboards directing motorists to the route, and it was discussing further promotion measures with the management company. 'The two-way flow of about 65,000 vehicles per day of course depends on economic and other factors,' Mr Lee said. Hong Kong Automobile Association spokesman Jackson Ho Yee-tak said it was financially one of the worst times for motorists, who he warned would avoid the route for a cheaper option. 'If motorists can save a dollar right now, they will,' Mr Ho said. Route Three general manager Gary Luk Kam-hon said concessions being considered, including rebates and other discounts made through fuel companies, would help woo motorists. He defended the $15 toll, saying it would not rise until at least 2003. 'Obviously the economic downturn will have some effects on the throughput of vehicles in tolled tunnels . . . but we'll have promotions,' Mr Luk said. Travel time from Yuen Long to Tsim Sha Tsui is expected to be cut from about 90 minutes to about 25 minutes. Mr Luk said he expected cars to save an average of $15 to $20 in fuel on each trip. Tolls for motorcycles, vans, lorries and trucks will be $10, $30, $40 and $60 respectively. Some bus services will use the new tunnel and have changed routes and fares.