The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (“the bridge”) will soon be open to traffic. As it is a strategic double gateway that connects Hong Kong with the Greater Bay Area and places around the world, Hong Kong will be able to utilize our unique advantages and take the opportunities provided by “bridgehead economics” and development in the Greater Bay Area and thereby inject economic and social development with new vitality. As the bridge will be open to traffic, vehicle clearance, port planning and related transportation supports have to be implemented and organized in order to make sure the traffic runs smoothly.
However, strict conditions will be imposed on vehicles crossing the border and application of permits of Guangdong/Hong Kong cross-boundary private cars. Ordinary people will have to rely on cross-border buses, shuttle buses, cross-boundary hire cars and such. However, this means that passengers will have to take a total of 4 separate buses as they cross the boundary, using up valuable time and energy.
With regard to the planning of the boundary port, the boundary crossing facilities island will provide around 650 parking spaces for private vehicles on the Hong Kong side. The parking lot at the adjacent Hong Kong International Airport is full on holidays. With the passage of cross-boundary vehicles, there will be a shortage of parking spaces in the area and this will cause traffic congestion. What is more worrying is that in the case that local cars are unable to find parking spaces at the border crossing, they will filter over into Tung Chung and cause major traffic problems in the area.
The bridge is located close to Tung Chung and as the traffic facilities there have not been upgraded in many years, this will cause a lot of inconvenience to Tung Chung residents such as traffic congestion within the district. The U-shaped roundabouts at Tat Tung Road do not spread out vehicles easily and as the number of cars using Tat Tung and Shun Tung roads will increase, this will cause major congestion and traffic issues in the centre of Tung Chung. This bad situation will be worse during rush hour. Also, there are not enough links between Tung Chung and the airport. As there are no direct rail links, buses become the only reliable source of transportation for residents. However, the buses take nearly 30 minutes with just 4.6 kilometers of driving distance, this is a major inconvenience for airport workers who live in Tung Chung.
Therefore, the DAB proposes these realistic solutions to the government in order to solve these problems:
First, the government should increase its quota for Guangdong/Hong Kong cross-boundary private cars and drastically lower the requirements for Hong Kong residents applying for the quota. The government should allow Hong Kong residents who hold property in the Zhuhai or rent properties there for over a year or work at there to apply for the permit without additional restrictions on property values and incomes. At the same time, it should increase the quota for “bridge-only permit” to 20,000 and provide greater convenience for Hong Kong residents to travel to cities and destinations in the Greater Bay Area through the bridge.
Second, implement a convenient “Ad Hoc Quota for Cross-Border Private Cars” policy at the Zhuhai border crossing and allow drivers to apply for this quota once and be able to use it multiple times. When the application is approved by the inspection authorities, the applicant will be given a quota for a period of three years. During this period, the driver can make an online reservation 24 hours before crossing the border. In the long term the HKSAR can discuss with Guangdong the possibility of limitless entry of Hong Kong private vehicles into and out of Guangdong and therefore encourage the economic development and cultural exchange between Hong Kong and Guangdong.
Third, increase the number of parking spots at the Hong Kong boundary crossing facilities island to over 5000 and quickly build multi-storey car park to free up space needed for development. At the same time we should develop apps and websites to implement real-time coordination of parking so to allow prospective users to know the parking situation and utilize BCF parking digitalization in real time. Drivers to can then reserve parking services and payment and thereby allot parking spots more effectively.
Fourth, improve the traffic facilities between the airport and Tung Chung. Develop an environmental friendly fast and convenient rail system to link Tung Chung, the Hong Kong border crossing at the bridge, Hong Kong international airport and AsiaWorld-Expo and develop a loop line for these areas vital to strategic development.
When the bridge is officially open to traffic, the third runway of the airport and the north commercial area of the airport become operational, creating a total of 140,000 jobs, we can predict increasing passenger and vehicle traffic in Tung Chung and the airport. This will create a greater need for traffic facilities and if we are unable to provide suitable arrangements, we will have missed a glorious opportunity. Therefore, the government has an urgent need to plan out effective ways and improved facilities to deal with the increased traffic in the area.
DAB Legislative Councilor Holden Chow (3703 9870)
DAB Legislative Councilor Ben Chan (2522 2202)