Toll increases of up to 50 per cent have been announced for a key route linking Yuen Long and Tsuen Wan. The move by the operators of the Tai Lam Tunnel came despite a plea by the Government to delay the rise to avoid hurting the recovering economy. The increases, effective from April 1, sparked fears among legislators that similar rises in public utilities fees might follow. Tunnel fees for cars and taxis will rise from $15 to $20, an increase of about 33 per cent. Minibuses and motorcycles will pay 50 per cent more, from $30 to $45 and $10 to $15 respectively. Commuters travelling from Tuen Mun and Yuen Long to West Kowloon are expected to be hardest hit. The increases were first scheduled in January but were shelved after the Government expressed concerns in light of the economic climate. The Transport Bureau said yesterday that calls for a further delay had been rejected. 'The franchisee has informed us . . . it has decided to adhere to its intention,' the bureau said in a paper to lawmakers. Unionist legislator Lee Cheuk-yan slammed the tunnel for raising tolls when the economy had yet to recover fully. 'I'm worried that more public utilities increases will follow,' Mr Lee said. The tunnel is allowed by law to raise fees if its revenue falls short of forecasts. A spokesman for the Route 3 (CPS) Company, the tunnel operator, said the adjustments were due to 'massive financial pressures'. The average daily vehicle flow was 45,000, almost 40 per cent short of the 73,000 target. Accumulated losses reached $600 million by the end of January. 'The decision is made after taking prudent consideration of the current economic climate,' the spokesman said. Light, medium and heavy goods vehicles will continue to enjoy concession rates with increases from $2 to $5, which is 44 to 80 per cent below the normal level. Discounts offered since July 1998 had cost the company $200 million already, the spokesman said. The tunnel is part of Route 3, linking Ting Kau near Tsuen Wan to Au Tau in Yuen Long.