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Rush-hour toll hike for harbour tunnels this year

2023-03-22 HKT 13:12
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  • Rush-hour toll hike for harbour tunnels this year
Motorists using the Cross-Harbour Tunnel will be paying twice as much for a rush-hour crossing by the end of the year after the government on Wednesday announced plans to accelerate congestion charging as it retakes control of the Western Harbour Crossing.

Transport Secretary Lam Sai-hung said officials wanted to speed up changes to the toll system for the three harbour crossings to cope with an increase in traffic as society returns to normalcy after the pandemic and quarantine-free travel with the mainland resumes.

From August 2 – the date the Western Harbour Crossing operator's franchise expires and the tunnel returns to government ownership – tolls for private cars will go up at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Harbour Crossing, from HK$20 and HK$25 respectively to HK$30. Tolls for the western crossing will be reduced by 20 percent, from HK$75 to HK$60.

“The toll gap between the [Cross-Harbour Tunnel] and the Western Harbour Crossing has been reduced from the existing HK$55 to HK$30,” Lam said.

“This will enable motorists originally planning to travel via the [Cross-Harbour Tunnel] or the Eastern Harbour Crossing, they will have more incentive to shift to the Western Harbour Crossing. That will help redistribute the traffic flow among the three tunnels.”

Officials had said that they would review the impact of the changes within a year before moving on to introduce differential fares for rush hour. Now, however, they say the congestion charges will take effect before the end of the year, though Lam did not give an exact date.

From Monday to Saturday, tolls will be higher from 7.30am to 10.30am and again from 4.30pm to 7pm. The fare at the western tunnel will still be HK$60 for private cars, while at the other two tunnels, the fare will be HK$40, twice the current cost of a Cross-Harbour Tunnel journey.

To avoid people speeding up or slowing down when tolls change, the increases and decreases will be phased in and out, with tolls going up by HK$2 every two minutes at the start of the period, then falling at the same rate at the end of the rush hour.

Fares will fall to HK$30 at all three tunnels in the daytime, while a lower fare of HK$20 will be implemented from 7pm to 7.30am. Lam said a simpler toll structure would apply on Sundays and public holidays.

Motorcycles will also be subject to time-varying charges. Taxis will be charged a HK$25 toll at all times, with officials saying keeping the toll standard would avoid affecting drivers' rest times. Tolls for other vehicles will be set at HK$50 all the time.

The changes will be put to the Legislative Council next week.

Rush-hour toll hike for harbour tunnels this year