22nd May 2023 – (Hong Kong) Following the implementation of the HKeToll non-stop toll payment system in the Tsing Sha Control Area on 7th May, it has now expanded to the Shing Mun Tunnels since yesterday, and will be extended to the Lion Rock Tunnel next Sunday. Some local reporters witnessed the traffic flow at the toll plaza of the Shing Mun Tunnels yesterday afternoon. On the road from Sha Tin to Tsuen Wan, there were not many vehicles on the road, and the traffic was generally smooth. However, there were still a few drivers who were not used to not having to stop to pay tolls and slowed down when they approached the toll booths. There were also private cars and trucks that accidentally entered the bus lane and had to be directed by staff to switch lanes.
Ringo Lee, President of the Hong Kong Automobile Association, pointed out that the main problem lies in the fact that the toll booths have not been removed, and vehicles still need to slow down to pass through. The toll booths also block the driver’s line of sight, causing problems with drivers entering the wrong lane. He believes that the toll booths should be removed as soon as possible.
The Shing Mun Tunnels started using the “HKeToll” system for toll collection from 5am. yesterday. Staff began implementing temporary traffic measures in stages from 11.30pm the night before, covering up the toll booth signs at the toll plaza of the tunnel and changing the traffic signs. The tunnel was closed from 4.30am for the installation of “HKeToll” signs, and the Commissioner for Transport, Rosanna Law, inspected the site. The tunnel was reopened at 5am and all vehicles passing through the toll booths could pay the toll through the “HKeToll” system without stopping or queuing. The Transport Department reported that as of 5.30pm yesterday, a total of 26,305 vehicles had passed through the Shing Mun Tunnels.
At the toll plaza of the Shing Mun Tunnels, which the reporter visited, all the toll booths had been covered with black cloth, and there were signs above the gantry saying “HKeToll Payment, No Need to Stop”. There were also several signs on both sides of the road reminding drivers that they did not need to stop. About two to three staff members were stationed nearby to provide assistance.
The road was generally smooth, but some drivers still hesitated when passing through the toll booths, slowing down or even stopping. The staff instructed them to continue driving. Some taxi drivers also slowed down and adjusted their cars’ positions, while some trucks stopped at the tunnel’s turnabout before the toll plaza. The driver handed a five-dollar coin to the staff, causing a tourist bus behind them to stop,resulting in the constant sound of car horns. Later, a broadcast announced “trucks, please continue to move forward,” and the truck driver only drove forward after hearing the announcement.
Furthermore, some private cars and trucks entered the bus lane by mistake, and a motorcycle driver who entered the wrong lane stopped and waited for the staff’s assistance. Soon after, a broadcast announced for him to continue moving forward and, with the help of the tunnel staff, he drove away. Buses have to switch lanes to the left after passing through the toll booths, and the Transport Department reminded drivers to give way to each other.
The implementation of the HKeToll non-stop toll payment system aims to reduce traffic congestion, shorten travel time, and increase road safety. However, the recent incidents of drivers slowing down or stopping at the toll booths indicate that some drivers are still not used to the system. The Transport Department should continue to promote and educate drivers on the use of the HKeToll system to minimise confusion and ensure smooth traffic flow.