The government is planning to lower the Western Harbour Crossing toll for private cars by 20 percent when it takes control of the tunnel next year and will set a standard fee for taxis no matter which tunnel across the harbour they use.
Apart from cutting the Western Harbour Crossing fee for private cars from HK$75 to HK$60, sources told RTHK that the authorities will also increase the cost for private cars to use the other two harbour tunnels.
Car drivers going through the Cross-Harbour Tunnel will pay HK$30, instead of the current HK$20, while those using the Eastern Harbour Crossing will see tolls go up to HK$30, from HK$25.
Transport sector lawmaker Frankie Yick confirmed that the government is planning to make the toll changes.
"By making use of the taking back of the Western Harbour Crossing by August next year, they want to make use of this opportunity to introduce a new toll scheme," said the Liberal Party lawmaker.
"Hopefully by reducing the [toll] gap between the three tunnels, that will achieve some sort of traffic diversion, which I believe will have some sort of impact but should not be significant," he added.
The government will also introduce a standardised HK$25 toll for taxis at all three tunnels.
This is the same as the current fee for the Eastern Harbour Crossing, but much cheaper than the existing charge for taxis at the Western Harbour Crossing, and more expensive than the fee at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel.
Yick added that the government is holding off on an earlier proposal to impose congestion charges at the tunnels.
"The pandemic is still around, the economy has not recovered yet, and the traffic situation is pretty free at this time. So the government thinks that it is not the right time to introduce the congestion charging scheme," he explained.
The Western Harbour Tunnel was franchised out to the private sector to construct and operate in 1993 under a 30-year deal and the agreement is set to expire next August.
Meanwhile, Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien echoed Yick's views, saying the differences in tolls at harbour tunnels are not enough to divert traffic.
"I don't believe that this small incremental change will substantially affect drivers' behaviour, so it is well possible that a year from now, we are looking at the same traffic pattern, with the Cross-Harbour Tunnel facing huge traffic jams and the Western Harbour Crossing still having extra capacity," he said.
"My proposal to the government is that, instead of charging HK$60, HK$30 and HK$30 [for the three tunnels respectively], you need to at least bring it to HK$50, HK$35 and HK$35, so that you can at least have some kind of driver response."
Last updated: 2022-11-30 HKT 20:15