A lawmaker and a traffic consultant on Thursday both said they don't think plans to reduce toll differences at the three cross-harbour tunnels will be effective in easing congestion. When it takes control of the Western Harbour Crossing in August next year, the government plans to cut private car tolls from HK$75 to HK$60, while increasing the cost for using 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. Taxi drivers using any of the tunnels will be charged a standard fee of HK$25. DAB lawmaker Ben Chan said the standardised taxi charge is a good idea, as drivers will use whichever tunnel is closest to them. But he said he thinks the toll change for private cars will be met with a lot of opposition, with people questioning why charges are being raised for the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and the Eastern Harbour Crossing. "Although tolls for the two would rise, traffic jams would continue, people would consider that the toll hike is just for the sake of hiking," he told an RTHK programme. Chan said congestion can only be eased through changing driving habits and the way to achieve this is by charging different tolls at different times of day. The head of the government's Transport Advisory Committee, Stephen Cheung, said the government does plan to introduce different hourly rates, but only following the toll adjustments and a review of data on tunnel usage. For his part, Alok Jain from Trans-Consult said the government should also introduce a congestion charge to go with the toll changes, which he thinks can ease traffic jams on Hong Kong Island. "If this whole tunnel toll adjustment was done in conjunction with congestion charges, then we would at least achieve the objective of managing the traffic congestion on Hong Kong Island," he told another RTHK programme. Automobile Association president Ringo Lee, meanwhile, said on Commercial Radio that there will be no incentive for drivers who normally use the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and the Eastern Harbour Crossing to switch to the Western Harbour Crossing. He noted that after the planned toll changes, the fees at the latter will cost double those at the other two.
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