Five ways Hong Kong can ease traffic jams at its cross-harbour tunnels
A number of articles and letters have proposed how to reduce traffic congestion at the Victoria Harbour crossings, with a variety of viable solutions proposed (“Two ways Hong Kong can ease traffic jams in cross-harbour tunnels”, July 2, “Western Harbour Tunnel must lower its prices or face government takeover”, June 24). What is clearly absent is the government’s leadership in taking swift action to address the situation by following the examples of other cities.
The US has a system called E-ZPass – similar to Hong Kong’s Autotoll, but with some major advantages. Operating across 38 agencies and 16 states, E-ZPass provides a highly efficient toll collection system which Hong Kong could easily follow.
First, automatic tolls should be available in all lanes, in addition to the current dedicated lanes.
Second, a discount should be provided to automatic toll subscribers.
Third, lanes leading to the tunnels, especially the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, should be established for automatic tolls (and taxis) only, with fines for those drivers who flout the rule.
Fourth, harbour crossing fees should be adjusted for peak/non-peak hours.
Fifth, the tunnel fees should all be the same.
Electronic toll collection has been in existence in Hong Kong since 1992 but only 46 per cent of registered vehicles use it. One reason that has been stated for not subscribing to Autotoll is the monthly small HK$35 administrative fee, which is really a feeble excuse.
Greater emphasis on – and incentives for – automatic toll collection would have a significant impact on congestion, and of course reduce pollution from all the vehicles idling in traffic lines at rush hour.
Finally, people complain about the cost of the tunnels, as we complain about the cost of everything. A round-trip car cash toll from New Jersey into Manhattan, New York, is about HK$118, versus a HK$40 round trip for the Cross-Harbour Tunnel. We already have a cheap deal.
Simon Constantinides, Pok Fu Lam