Huge fee if road pricing starts now If the government introduced a congestion charge tomorrow it would have to sting drivers for HK$90 for each trip to Central - and that would deter only one in five from making the journey by road. But drivers would need pay only HK$40 to HK$50 if the scheme were launched in 2016, when the Central-Wan Chai bypass has been built. Those are among the findings of the second study of the feasibility of electronic road pricing. A senior government source called the HK$90 charge huge and said: 'We do not think people will be willing to pay such a high price.' Congestion charging has been on the agenda since the 1980s. A consultancy study finished in 2000 was not released in full. The source said officials were looking at the second study's findings and considering how and when to release them. The source said the difference between the charges was so high because, without a bypass, drivers unwilling to pay would have almost no alternative route. 'They would have to pay and go to Central because there was no other choice, thus only a huge charge can deter traffic coming to Central. With the bypass, drivers going to Sheung Wan and Western could skip Central without paying a charge. Without the bypass, motorists who don't want to pay would be pushed to Mid-Levels and that would be a nightmare.' The source added: 'The bypass is an essential part of the road pricing scheme.' Tim Hau Doe-kwong, a University of Hong Kong transport expert, said the figures showed the significance of giving drivers a second option. 'A mere increase in costs to suppress demand without the provision of an alternative would result in public chaos,' he said. The Transport Department's 2006 annual traffic census shows the average number of vehicles entering and leaving the city's central business district each day was 491,320. Other cities have reported dramatic results from congestion charging. Singapore's Land Transport Authority says the number of vehicles entering the city centre fell by more than 70 per cent when road pricing was introduced in 1997. Transport for London, which oversees congestion charging in the British capital, says that in 2006, the number of vehicles entering the central zone where the charge applies was down 21 per cent on the number in 2002, a year before it began charging drivers. The Hong Kong government's third comprehensive transport study, in 2003, showed average speeds had dropped to 16km/h on major roads in the central business district. If nothing was done by 2011, it said, that would drop to 5.3km/h. The Council for Sustainable Development polled 80,000 people last year and found more than 40 per cent support for electronic road pricing.