THE chairman of an influential transport watchdog yesterday fired a warning shot at government officials keen to control traffic congestion by placing tight limits on car ownership. Transport Advisory Committee chairman, Professor Leung Chi-keung, said Hong Kong's increasingly wealthy people deserved greater personal mobility, not less. 'Restricting the increase of car ownership by whatever measures - quota, registration or whatever - is not fair in a situation like Hong Kong,' said Professor Leung. 'Hong Kong is one of the most important economies in the world, and our affluence, our economic level, our growth and our development justify a much higher level of freedom of mobility. 'So I do not believe any restriction on car ownership is fair. Let's face it, we have only 12 per cent household car ownership which is the lowest in the region, certainly the lowest among the great cities in the world. 'Meanwhile, our average per capita income is so high when our mobility is so low. I don't understand.' A Transport Branch spokesman said: 'Both the Governor and the Secretary for Transport have said that there is no easy solution to the traffic congestion problem. The public have to face some very difficult choices. 'It all depends on what the public wants.' Government officials have hinted that the measures will centre on imposing a quota on the number of new car owners allowed every year, but that financial penalties such as higher annual licences and higher first registration tax are also on the agenda. The officials say these would be interim measures which would pave the way for the eventual introduction of Electronic Road Pricing (ERP). But Professor Leung said ERP was not the answer. 'As a temporary measure it might be considered. A solution, it is not. 'As a measure it still discriminates against those who don't pay or who cannot pay. And it would restrict the use of important areas such as the Central business district to those who can afford it.' Professor Leung urged the Government to look at expanding the road network and called for closer supervision of the Mass Transit Railway and the Kowloon Canton Railway to see if they could provide more services to new towns. Government plans to rein in the galloping increase of traffic on the roads are at an advanced stage.