Transport to start tolls on first day of new toll plan

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Transport to start tolls on first day of new toll plan

EDMOND TANG CHINA DAILY Traffic at Hong Kong's three crossharbor tunnels ran smooth on Wednesday, the first day of a new toll plan that aims to ease the city's traffic congestion.

Lam Sai-hung, the chief executive of the special administrative region government, made the announcement on Wednesday, the first day of the 633 toll plan.

Under the new plan, private cars using the Western Harbour Crossing are charged HK $60 $7.69, while the toll now is HK 30 at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Harbour Crossing.

Taxis will pay HK$25 for passing through any of the three tunnels. Passengers who don't board from cross-harbor taxi stands will be responsible for paying the toll and outbound toll, which would total HK $50.

The plan came into effect on the day that the government took control of Western Harbour Crossing after its 30-year franchise ended.

After inspecting the Western Harbour Crossing, Lam said that the number of taxis passing through the tunnel increased by about 50 percent during the night and 20 percent during the morning peak, showing that the plan effectively diverted the traffic.

The two-way cross-harbor traffic flow of about 44,000 vehicles on Wednesday was about 44,000 vehicles, about the same as before the implementation of the new plan.

The HKeToll will be implemented Sunday at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel.

Traffic flow at the Western Harbour Crossing increased slightly by about 3 percent, while 4 percent fewer vehicles used the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and 1 percent fewer used the eastern one. The situation was in line with expectations of the department, the statement said.

The HKeToll, which enables motorists to pay tunnel tolls without having to line up at the booths, will be launched on July 27 at the western tunnel, and on August 27 at the eastern tunnel.

The transport department anticipates smoother operation of the three tunnels as new facilities are commissioned.

Lam added that the government will soon implement a time-of-use pricing system for the three tunnels to further ease traffic in the three tunnels.

The Hong Kong Storehouses, Transportation and Logistics Staff Association chairman, Li Chi-yung, told China Daily that the new toll bill will have a limited effect on the route that private car owners choose, as the price adjustments are considered mild.

Yison Lau Chun-kit, secretary of the Federation of the Hong Kong Transportation and Logistics Industry Unions, said that the new toll will play a greater role in diverting traffic as it reduces traffic flow on the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Harbour Crossing in the morning rush hours on the first day of operation.