Today, the government has released the public engagement document on “Electronic Road Pricing Pilot Scheme in Central and its adjacent areas”. CAN welcomes the move from the government as we believe this consultation is long overdue.
For the past decade, the growth rate of private vehicles was 4.6% per year. On major traffic routes in Central, the travelling speed dropped to 10 km per hour during peak time, thus resulting in not only notorious traffic congestion but also worsened air quality.
CEO of Clean Air Network, Sum Yin Kwong, says, “Demand-side transportation management is a world trend. And we need to make it a less attractive option to drive cars if we want to inhibit private car growth. Electronic Road Pricing is just one of the measures proven effective in other cities.”
Hong Kong conducted a similar pilot program in 1983-85 years and yielded quite promising results: the travel time was lowered by 20-24%; the average speed during peak hours increased by 10%; and air pollution emissions were reduced by 17% with 6-9% of fuel savings. However, the plan fell through due to privacy issues back then.
Today, the scheme becomes even more viable with the availability of alternative route “The Central-Wan Chai Bypass”. Motorists not going to Central will have the choice to detour around the charging area.
CAN pointed out that besides the potential traffic reduction should the scheme be implemented, other complementary plannings such as Des Voeux Road Central Tram & Pedestrian Precinct will further reduce traffic flow and reduce air pollution in the area.
“It is high time that Hong Kong act on this long discussed plan. We need to change our mindset from accommodation of more cars to the development of a more sustainable transportation mode”, Kwong added.
CAN will submit more detailed responses towards specific questions in the coming months.