Traffic congestion reaches saturation point at three Road Harbour Crossings, time-varying toll plan to be implemented next month

Ben Chan

27th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) In an effort to alleviate traffic congestion at the three Road Harbour Crossings (RHCs) in Hong Kong, namely the Western Harbour Crossings (WHC), the Cross Harbour Tunnel (CHT), and the Eastern Harbour Crossings (EHC), the government will implement the second stage of the Time-varying Toll Plan starting from 5am on 17th December, 2023. The plan aims to regulate traffic flow during peak hours by applying different toll levels at different time slots, providing drivers with an opportunity to adjust their travel schedules accordingly.

During a visit to the Western Harbour Crossings, conducted by the Legislative Council’s Panel on Transport this morning, Ben Chan, the chairman of the committee, expressed concerns about the current congestion levels at the three RHCs during peak hours. He anticipates that the implementation of the second stage of the toll plan will result in varying degrees of traffic congestion, but believes that drivers will need some time to adapt to the changes.

Chan also highlighted the “633 plan” introduced in the first stage of the toll plan, which encouraged some taxis to switch to the Western Harbour Crossings. The committee will closely monitor the data after the implementation of the second stage and, if necessary, will engage in discussions with the government to explore alternative solutions. The legislation also allows the Transport Department to make adjustments to the implementation time and toll charges.

During the visit to the administration building at the Western Harbour Crossings, committee members inspected the preparations and received a briefing from the Transport Department. Chan emphasized that the goal of the plan is to encourage drivers to adjust their travel schedules whenever feasible, thereby creating more space on the cross-harbour routes and improving traffic flow.

Furthermore, Chan noted that the current combined traffic flow at the three RHCs has reached saturation point. He expects that after the implementation of the second stage, varying levels of traffic congestion will occur, but he believes there will be an adjustment period for drivers. He called for patience and understanding from motorists. The committee also raised concerns about the traffic conditions near the entrances and exits of the three RHCs, as well as the control of traffic signals. They have requested improvements from the Transport Department, including the addition of routes to Central at the Hong Kong Island exit. Additionally, the committee expressed interest in the stability of the “e-Tag” toll collection system. The Transport Department responded by stating that the system can handle over ten times the current traffic volume per hour.

Chan also cited the Transport Department’s explanation that during the implementation of the Time-varying Toll Plan, there will be display boards at the entrance of the Western Harbour Crossings showing the toll charges for private cars at that time, and the “e-Passage” mobile application will also provide relevant fee information. As for publicity, the Transport Department has already made arrangements for online and television programs, and Chan expressed confidence that there is sufficient time for promotion due to the delayed implementation.