Announced by the Secretory for Transport and Logistics Lam Sai-hung on March 22, time-based charges on three harbour crossings will come into effect within this year, following the first phase with adjusted fixed tolls in August.
Officials said the revamp aims to narrow the toll gap between crossings and redistribute traffic flow.
In the first phase, starting from August 2, private cars will be charged HK$30 at Cross-Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Harbour Crossing, which is higher than the current HK$20 and HK$25 respectively. For Western Harbour Crossing, the toll will be decreased to HK$60 from the current HK$75.
In the second phase with the time-varying toll plan, private cars and motorcycles will be charged corresponding to three time slots from Monday to Saturday:
- Peak time from morning 7:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. and in the evening from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Normal time between 10:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
- Off-peak time from 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. the next day.
To avoid drivers deliberately change their speed ahead of toll changes, between time slots, tolls will gradually increase or decrease HK$2 every two minutes.
Lam said in the press conference that most of the time vehicles would be charged less after implementation of the new plan, “This helps shorten vehicle queuing length in rush hours, easing traffic congestion.”
“I would be enraged if I miss a cheaper time slot because of traffic jam,” Uber driver Andrew Yeung thinks the new fee structure is terrible and ineffective. Uber cars are not classified as commercial vehicles like taxis, which are not subject to the time-varying plan and pay HK$25 per crossing.
Although Uber passengers need to bear the toll fee, fares that are paid in advance are only estimations and do not reflect the actual spending.
“Most people are willing to pay more to save time on traffic,” Yeung added. “A cheaper toll on the usually smooth Western Harbour Crossing might lead to bottleneck congestion.”
Ringo Lee Yiu-pui, the president of the Hong Kong Automobile Association, suggested in a radio programme that the government should set the same toll on all three crossings in rush hours, “Drivers can simply choose the smoothest route without being bound by the fare they need to pay.”
On Sundays and public holidays, the toll for private cars from 10:15 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. are set at $25 for all harbour crossings. For hours not falling within the time slot, the toll will be $20.
Motorcycles are another type of vehicles subject to the time-based structure, with tolls set at 40 percent of private cars.
(Featured image: Audrey Ng)