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Smoothing the Flow of Traffic

Sitting in traffic jams is one of the great frustrations of living in a big city, and Hong Kong is certainly not immune. It seems to be most noticeable at busy periods such as Mid-Autumn Festival or at Christmas, when so many of us have events to attend, people to visit and gifts to buy.

Such snarl-ups are perhaps surprising in Hong Kong, given that there is so much to be admired about our transportation system in general. Our clean, fast and efficient MTR is the envy of the world. Meanwhile, we have an extensive network of light rail, buses and minibuses that stretches from downtown to the suburbs and rural villages.

But it is easy to forget this when you are stuck in a taxi that is going nowhere, particularly if you are in a rush to get to an important business meeting or to spend some precious time with friends and family.

So at the Chamber we were very pleased to see the Government’s plan to rebalance the tolls on our three cross-harbour tunnels. The changes will see a reduction in the cost to use the less-busy Western Harbour Tunnel, and an increase in the tariffs for the Cross Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Harbour Crossing.

The expected impact of this will be to spread the traffic more evenly among the three tunnels, and should lead to an easing of the worst bottlenecks at rush hour.

Here in Hong Kong, we are renowned for our efficiency, and we do not want to risk this being compromised. Improving the flow of traffic, particularly in the key central business districts, is important to ensure our continued standing as one of the best places in the world to do business.

It will be interesting to see how much the change in prices does actually affect driver behaviour. We are also aware that it may have the undesired impact of creating more congestion in Sheung Wan and Central, so we are pleased that it will come into operation only after the Central-Wan Chai bypass is completed. We trust that the Government will monitor the impact of the changes closely, and make adjustments if and when they are needed.

But overall, we welcome the plan as a sensible and straightforward solution, and look forward to seeing it in action.

Posted on 2018/12/24