Western Harbour Tunnel must lower its prices or face government takeover
I refer to the editorial on the government’s view that traffic congestion could be eased by subsidising the use of the Western Harbour Tunnel and raising tolls at the other two cross-harbour tunnels (“Greater political will needed on Hong Kong cross-harbour tunnels”, June 5).
Focusing on private cars, the most congested tunnel should charge the most, with the total charge of the three tunnels maintained at HK$115, so that there is no question of subsidy or penalisation.
An agreement must be reached with the Western Harbour Tunnel to reduce its tolls, with not only its current income guaranteed but any increase in the overall income from the three tunnels shared. This would not be a zero-sum game.
Sufficient time should be allowed for the traffic flow pattern to stabilise before any necessary adjustments are made to the tolls.
For a more holistic solution, a similar approach should be taken on the land tunnels.
The information on the volume of traffic flow can be obtained from the Transport Department or commercial big data such as from Google. To help motorists decide which tunnel to use, they could use apps such as Google Maps or Hong Kong eTransport.
The benefits of the enhanced traffic flow are savings of time and fuel, less air pollution and economic gains from efficiency in transport associated with the tunnels.
The government must negotiate with the Western Harbour Tunnel, failing which it would have to buy out the tunnel.
Meanwhile, the Western Harbour Tunnel, from a corporate social responsibility perspective, must seriously consider cooperation with the government, or else face a compulsory takeover.
Hubert Hiew, North Point