Two ways Hong Kong can ease traffic jams in cross-harbour tunnels
I write to suggest alternative ways to decongest Hong Kong’s cross-harbour tunnels, rather than levelling the toll gaps among the three (“Greater political will needed on Hong Kong cross-harbour tunnels”, June 5). Possible solutions could be to implement a time-variant toll charge and/or a direction-variant toll charge, which is often used overseas (as at some points in Sydney and in crossings between New Jersey and New York in the US).
For the time-variant version of the toll, charges for the underutilised Western Harbour Tunnel can be lowered during rush hour to attract drivers away from the two less expensive tunnels which are prone to congestion. When the two cheaper tunnels are clear, the western tunnel can resume charging a costlier toll.
With this implementation, we may expect to see less congestion at the Cross-Harbour and Eastern tunnels as well as the heavily used Gloucester Road during rush hour. Additionally, this would also ease traffic going to the east of Hong Kong on Gloucester Road, which is commonly slowed by the congestion in the central tunnel.
In the direction-variant toll approach, charges can be lowered for drivers crossing the harbour from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and raised for those going in the other direction. This would help to relieve the overall congestion on the island, especially on the weekends.
The three tunnels could also collaborate and each come up with a different direction-variant toll charge strategy, targeting congestion in specific districts. For example, a higher toll for the Cross-Harbour Tunnel than the Eastern tunnel for drivers going to Kowloon may encourage those travelling outbound from Hong Kong’s east side to take the Eastern rather than the central tunnel, which is currently cheaper. This would again help relieve traffic pressure on the easily congested Cross-Harbour tunnel.
Darson Lew, Pok Fu Lam