LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1561/95-96
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PL/TP/1

LegCo Panel on Transport
Minutes of the Meeting

on Thursday, 11 April 1996 at 8:30 a.m.
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon HO Chun-yan
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Members Absent:

    Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, OBE, JP
    Hon LAU Chin-shek

Member Attending :

    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan (Non-Panel Member)

Public Officers Attending :

All Items
Deputy Secretary for Transport
Mrs Lily YAM
Commissioner for Transport
Transport Department
Item III
Mr Augustine CHENG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport
Dr Ernest S W LEE
Assistant Commissioner for Transport
Transport Department
Mr TSAO Tak-kiang
Assistant Director/Headquarters
Highways Department
Chief Superintendent
Royal Hong Kong Police Force
Item IV
Mr Isaac CHOW
Deputy Secretary for Transport
Mr KAM Chan-yiu
Government Engineer/Port & Airport Development
Transport Department
Mrs Grace IP
Chief Transport Officer/Port & Airport Development
Transport Department
Item V
Mr Isaac CHOW
Deputy Secretary for Transport
Mr Augustine CHENG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport
Mr CHOW Ying-shun
Acting Assistant Commissioner for Transport
Transport Department
Director of Highways
Highways Department
Mr Alan TSE
Senior Engineer
Highways Department
Chief Superintendent
Royal Hong Kong Police Force

Attendance by Invitation :

Item IV :
Mr G A Rogers
MVA Asia Ltd

Staff in Attendance :

Mrs Vivian KAM
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)2
Mr Billy TAM
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4


I. Confirmation of Minutes of Meeting

(LegCo Papers No. CB(1) 1199/95-96 and PL 1146/95-96)

The minutes of the meetings held on 2 and 8 February 1996 were confirmed.

II. Date of Next Meeting and Items for Discussion

(Appendix I to LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1196/95-96)

2. The next meeting would be held on Thursday, 9 May 1996, at 8:30 am to discuss "Cross Border Infra-structural Developments and Transport Arrangements".

(Post-meeting note: At the request of the Administration and with the concurrence of the Chairman, two additional agenda items on "New Lantao Bus Co. Ltd. Franchise Renewal" and "Lantau Taxi Fare Increase Application" were to be added to the meeting.)

3. Members agreed to invite Hon LAU Chin-shek to brief the Panel on the Public Bus Services (Amendment) Bill 1996 at a special meeting to be held on Tuesday, 16 April 1996, at 10:45 am.

4. As regards a complaint case concerning Approach Roads to the Western Harbour Crossing referred by Duty Roster Members, members agreed to include the subject in the list of outstanding items for discussion.

III. Overloading of Dumper Trucks and Cement Trucks

(Appendices II and III to LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1196/95-96 and the information paper on "Road Pavement Design" at the Annex tabled at the meeting)

5. The Chairman reported that the subject of Overloading of Dumper Trucks and Cement Trucks had been discussed by the Panel on a number of occasions and was last brought up by the Hong Kong Dumper Truck Drivers Association at a meeting with Duty Roster Members in May 1995. The deputation was worried about the persistent overloading problem of dumper trucks despite an increase in fixed penalty amounts and urged the Administration to review measures to address the problem.

6. At the invitation of the Chairman, Dr Ernest S W LEE highlighted the main points in the information paper already circulated to the Panel. He said that the problem had become less serious in recent years as a result of the concerted efforts of parties concerned to combat the problem and the continuous publicity about the danger of overloading. He emphasised the importance of self-discipline of the trade and indicated that the Administration might consider the introduction of demerit points for convictions of overloading offences. He added that there was hotline service for drivers to report cases of overloading and drivers were encouraged to give evidence. Mr C S CHEUNG advised that the Police had been enforcing vigilantly legal provisions relating to overloading, and the enforcement figures had risen from 18,375 in 1993 to 26,068 in 1995. He informed that in addition to the Tai Lam Chung Weighstation, a further weighstation would be set up on Hong Kong Island to enhance enforcement. Furthermore, mobile weighing devices would also be used by police officers for the detection of suspected over-loading cases.

7. Members noted that drivers had the tendency to overload as on the one hand owners of the goods or of the vehicles would bear the penalty payments, and on the other hand if drivers did not co-operate, they could be laid off by the owners. Some members considered that owners of goods, instead of owners of goods vehicles, should be liable for overloading offences. Mr Augustine CHENG advised that the "responsibility" issue was discussed when the relevant legislation was amended in 1993 and views held at that time were divided. The relevant Bills Committee ultimately agreed to specify in the Ordinance such overloading offences as being the responsibility of vehicle owners. He acknowledged that there were practical difficulties in enforcement as evidence and co-operation were often difficult to obtain. As a result, only 40 vehicle owners had so far been prosecuted.

8. A member recalled that the Administration had some years ago undertaken to install more weighstations and expressed disappointment at the slow progress. In response, Dr LEE said that the Administration was actively monitoring progress, but that the selection of sites had not been easy owing to the limited land supply in Hong Kong. Moreover, the use of mobile hand-held weighing devices had also reduced the need for the number of weighstations and altogether 15 mobile hand-held weighing devices were in use and were evenly distributed among the three regions. Nevertheless, he advised that a weighstation in East Hong Kong Island and another one in West Kowloon had been planned for fiscal year 1998/99. The number was considered adequate for the time being. A member suggested that weighstations should be made a standard feature on all newly built express roads. At a member's request, Mr CHEUNG undertook to provide statistics on weighing and overloading offences since the opening of the Tai Lam Chung Weighstation.

(Post-meeting note: The information was circulated to Members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1245/95-96 dated 16 April 1996.)

9. To address some members' concern on the diminishing deterrent effect of fixed penalty, Mr CHEUNG informed that the previous practice of issuing summonses to goods vehicle owners after 30 fixed penalty tickets (FPTs) had been issued had recently been revised to 20 FPTs. In response to members, Mr Paul LEUNG added that the Administration would constantly review the levels of penalty payments including the demerit points system, in order to maintain the deterrent effect. Some members cautioned that the proposed system warranted careful consideration since it might be unfair to drivers whose daily living might be jeopardised; they suggested that this should be the last resort when other measures had been exhausted. A few members however supported the two-pronged approach of more frequent issue of summonses and the introduction of "demerit points". In response to the Chairman, Mr LEUNG confirmed that legislative amendments would be required for implementation of the proposal.

10. As regards the suggestion to categorise dumper trucks as a special type of vehicle to facilitate monitoring, Dr LEE considered that the lack of flexibility might hamper the livelihood of drivers. A member suggested that in the long term, weighing devices should be installed on vehicles to show the weight of goods or to alert drivers in case of overloading. The Chairman urged the Administration to find out if similar devices were used in other countries. Dr LEE added that pamphlets were available to show the methodology, which was drawn up after due consultation with the trade, of how the weight of goods could be estimated.

11. A member suggested that goods vehicles should be weighed whenever the vehicles left construction sites in order to detect overloading. Another member proposed weighing dumper trucks at dumping sites. Dr LEE cautioned that for the purpose of enforcement of legislation, the weighing equipment at construction and dumping sites would have to be very accurate. Mr CHENG said that members' suggestions would be taken into account when the review on the subject matter was to be conducted. At members' request, Mr LEUNG undertook to revert to the Panel in three months' time.

12. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr TSAO Tak-kiang briefed Members on the paper at the Annex and pointed out that the design of road pavement had taken into consideration the use by heavy duty vehicles. The normal life span of a cement road and a tar road, with regular maintenance, was 40 and 20 years respectively. Mr TSAO acknowledged however that overloading did have a significant effect on the deterioration of roads, the wear-and-tear effect on a road by a 20-tonne vehicle being 16 times of that by a 10-tonne vehicle. Members expressed concern on the amount of public money spent annually on road repairs as a result of heavy and overloaded vehicles. They also sought elaboration on the damage to roads due to overloaded vehicles and the impact on specific trunk roads like the Tuen Mun Road and the Tolo Highway. Mr TSAO undertook to provide the information in writing after the meeting.

(Post meeting note : The requisite information was circulated to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1370/95-96 dated 8 May 1996.)

IV Public Transport Services to Residents in Tung Chung New Town

(Appendix IV to LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1196/95-96)

13. The Chairman said that members were concerned about the adequacy of public transport services for residents in Tung Chung in view of the impending occupation of new public housing estates in the new town in mid-1997. As the information paper circulated to members was already self-explanatory and required no further introduction by the Administration, she invited questions from members.

14. Members were worried that residents might be reluctant to move into Tung Chung if public transport services were inadequate. Members enquired if the three proposed external bus services would be sufficient to cope with the demand of the 15,000 residents. In response, Mr G A Rogers of the MVA Asia Ltd advised that it was estimated that half of the population would be at work and that a proportion of them would be working at the new airport. Furthermore, the population in Tung Chung might take some six months to build up during which time the number of bus routes would increase. On that basis, the external bus services as proposed would be adequate before the Airport Railway (AR) commenced operation in mid-1998. In response to a member on whether priority for public housing in the new town would be given to those with jobs in the vicinity, the Chairman suggested that the Housing Branch be invited to provide the information. Mr Isaac CHOW said that the Housing Authority which had been consulted had also emphasised the need for adequate bus services to tie in with the occupation of the public housing estates. The Administration would closely monitor the situation and would, if necessary, request the future franchised bus operator to increase service frequencies. Mr CHOW also confirmed in response to a member that in accordance with existing legislation, proposals for fare revision for the new bus services would be subject to approval by the Governor in Council.

15. A member enquired if green minibuses (GMB) would be allowed in the new town before 1998 as this would provide more routes and choices to commuters. Mr Rogers explained that the major demand initially was for services by buses with large capacities and that the demand for GMB services would only arise as from 1998. Mr CHOW added that the proposals in Annex B to Appendix IV would be subject to finetuning when the need arose. As regards overnight service link to the Chek Lap Kok Ground Transportation Centre, Mr Rogers advised that Mong Kok would be the major interchange point for passengers after midnight. Mrs Grace IP explained that red minibuses to the New Territories and overnight tunnel buses passed through Mong Kok but not Tsim Sha Tsui and hence the overnight service to Mong Kok would be introduced earlier. In reply to a member, Mr Rogers informed that the bus journey time between Tung Chung and Mei Foo, and Tung Chung and Kowloon City Ferry Pier would be 42 and 68 minutes respectively as most of the trip was along expressways.

16. As regards the availability of parking spaces at the Tung Chung AR Station for park-and-ride purposes, Mrs Grace IP informed that about 310 public parking spaces would be available in nearby commercial developments in 1998. At the request of the Chairman, Mr Paul LEUNG undertook to provide an information note on how the Administration would encourage park-and-ride so as to address a member's concern that high parking fees at privatised carparks might discourage parking at the station.

17. A member expressed concern on the non-availability of ferry services to and from Tung Chung. He was concerned that this might arise from an intention to restrict passengers to the expensive and monopolised AR service. Mr Rogers informed in response that no restriction was assumed and that this comment was brought up often in public consultation. However, direct bus services were considered more desirable than ferry services as the latter would require feeder bus services to the piers. In addition, financial evaluation indicated that ferry operation might not be viable because of the huge overhead costs. Mr CHOW clarified that ferry services had not been ruled out and that proposals from interested ferry operators would still be considered.

18. In response to the Chairman on transport services between Tung Chung and South Lantau, Mrs IP informed that three bus services would be provided by the New Lantao Bus Company Ltd and Lantau taxis would also be allowed to carry passengers to the village, the clinic and the AR Station in Tung Chung.

V Any Other Business

(a) Research on Mass Transit Systems

19. Members agreed to request the Research & Library Services Division of the LegCo Secretariat to conduct a research into the "Monitoring of Mass Transit Systems in Overseas Countries" for reference by Panel members; the review was to be completed in two months' time.

(b) Traffic Congestion on Tuen Mun Road on 7 April 1996

20. The Chairman invited the Administration to report on the traffic congestion on Tuen Mun Road on 7 April 1996.

21. Mr Paul LEUNG said that the Administration was gravely concerned about the incident and apologized for the inconvenience caused. He added that it was a lesson to be learnt and every endeavour would be made to avoid similar recurrences. Mr K S LEUNG then briefed members on the circumstances surrounding the incident. He advised that the purpose for the closure of the Tuen Mun Road on 7 April 1996 was to demolish a 40-metre long arch bridge which was made redundant due to the construction of a new bridge. The original plan was for demolition work to commence at 0:15 am and to complete by 7:00 am. However, because of the unexpected heavy traffic flow, the road could not be cleared until 1:30 am. Coupled with the failure of a generator and the difficulties encountered in lifting and placing the 20-metre long cut bridge segments onto the trailers, it was envisaged at about 5:00 am on 7 April 1996 that the road could not be opened at 7:00 am as scheduled. The Highways Department immediately notified the Transport Department's Emergency Transport Co-ordination Centre. Radio broadcast was made at 6:15 am to announce the deferral of the opening of the Tuen Mun Road until 9:00 am. A further decision to defer the opening to 10:00 am was made by the Highways Department at 8:15 am. At 10:15 am, the Tuen Mun bound traffic resumed and at 10:45 am, the traffic on Tuen Mun Road was completely back to normal.

22. Mrs Lily YAM stated that the Transport Department (TD) had requested the Hongkong & Yaumati Ferry Co Ltd (HYF) to increase ferry services from 8:00 am on the day of the incident, and patronage increased by about 60%. The TD had considered asking the Kowloon Motor Bus Co Ltd (KMB) to run services between Tuen Mun and Sheung Shui when the Department learned that the road could not be re-opened at 9:00 am. However, since deploying the buses would take one or two hours by which time Tuen Mun Road would be opened, the idea was not pursued. The TD had reviewed the arrangements and come to the view that the first radio broadcast at 6:15 am should have reminded listeners to check the latest position before leaving home. The Department would also look into the possibility of providing more information at bus terminals to alert passengers of the traffic congestion on Tuen Mun Road.

23. Members were dissatisfied with the performance of the various Government departments during the incident. They criticised the absence of inter-departmental co-ordination, flexibility and contingency plans despite a delay in the demolition on a number of occasions over a period of four hours. A member considered that the works should have been cancelled if the commencement time was delayed by 1 hour 15 minutes. Mr K S LEUNG disagreed and explained that the Highways Department had hoped to make up for the delay by deploying additional equipment for the demolition work. The ensuing malfunctioning of certain equipment was unexpected. Some members were of the opinion that the Police should have removed the anti-crash barriers separating the Tuen Mun bound traffic and the Kowloon bound traffic, and redirected vehicles back to Tuen Mun. Mr C S CHEUNG explained that such action was not taken at 8:00 am as the road was expected to re-open by 9:00 am. Furthermore, a large number of vehicles had accumulated by then and it would cause too much inconvenience to commuters for traffic to be redirected back to Tuen Mun in the meantime.

24. In response to members, Mrs YAM clarified that the TD's Emergency Transport Co-ordination Centre was responsible for arranging alternative means of public transport and the direction of road traffic on site was the responsibility of the Police. Even though TD staff might not always be present on site during an incident, the traffic condition could be monitored through close circuit television in their offices. Mr CHOW Ying-shun also confirmed that the traffic flow on that morning followed the normal Sunday pattern. To address members' concern, Mr Paul LEUNG advised that in future closures of the Tuen Mun Road, an inter-departmental co-ordination centre staffed by officers of departments concerned would be set up on site.

25. Members were of the view that there was error in judgement in the incident, that there was total absence of co-ordination among Government departments involved, and that the contingency arrangements were grossly inadequate. They unanimously supported a motion of regret on the incident. The Chairman urged the Administration to thoroughly review the incident and revert to the Panel at a future meeting with action plans for future road closures.

26. There being no further business, the meeting ended at 10:45 a.m.

Council Business Division 1
LegCo Secretariat
6 June 1996

Last Updated on 21 Aug. 1998