LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1802/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PL/TP/1
LegCo Panel on Transport
Minutes of meeting held on Friday, 9 May 1997, at 8:30 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Members present :
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP (Chairman)Members absent :
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Hon LAU Chin-shek
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon TSANG Kin-shing
Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling
Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Public officers attending :
Clerk in attendance :
Ms Estella CHAN,
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4
Staff in attendance :
Mr Matthew LOO,
- Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4 (Acting)
I.Confirmation of minutes and matters arising
(LegCo Papers No. CB(1) 1480 & 1428/96-97)
The minutes of meetings held on 3 and 13 March 1997 were confirmed.
II.Information papers issued since last meeting
(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1302/96-97 provided by the China Motor Bus Co. Ltd. on its operational and financial information and performance pledges
LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1494/96-97 provided by the Administration regarding Driving-Offence Points for traffic offences in tunnels)
2. The Panel noted that two information papers had been issued since last meeting.
III.Items for discussion for the next meeting scheduled for 13 June 1997
(List of outstanding items for discussion (position as at 6 May 1997)
Paper No. CB(1) 1479/96-97(01) provided by the Administration on the latest position with regard to the outstanding issues)
3. The Chairman advised that a special meeting had been scheduled for 14 May 1997 to discuss the toll increase arbitration of the Eastern Harbour Crossing. Members discussed the priorities of subjects on the List of Outstanding Items for Discussion and agreed that the following should be discussed within the current LegCo session:
- Parking Demand Study;
- Freight Transport Study;
- Taxi licence premium;
- Progress of Airport Railway project;
- Franchise renewal of China Motor Bus Co. Ltd.;
- Franchise renewal of Kowloon Motor Bus Co. Ltd.; and
- Long term development of ferry services.
4. In view of the numerous items to be covered before the end of the session, the Panel agreed that in addition to the regular meeting scheduled for 13 June 1997, another special meeting should be held on 5 June 1997, at 8:30 am, and that one more item should be discussed at the special meeting on 14 May 1997. The Clerk was to liaise with the Administration regarding the distribution of topics over the meetings. Furthermore, the Administration would be requested to provide written responses to the following issues:
(a) Hongkong & Yaumati Ferry Co. Ltd.s proposal to cancel the Tsing Yi calling point from the Tsuen Wan to Central ordinary ferry and hovercraft services after the opening of the Lantau Link
Kwai Tsing District Board
(b) Road markings for restricted zones
Wan Chai District Board
(c) Interim traffic mitigation measures to alleviate traffic congestion between Shatin and Kowloon from 2001 until the completion of Route 16
Public Works Subcommittee (PWSC)
(d) Progress of the pier development package being negotiation with the Hongkong & Yaumati Ferry Co. Ltd.
(e) Means to prevent trees from obstructing directional signs for motorists
5. As regards the referral from PWSC on the design and construction costs of footbridges, the Panel agreed that it would be more appropriate to refer the subject to the Planning, Lands and Works Panel for follow-up.
IV.Tuen Mun Road widening work mediation case and latest developments of the project
(Paper No. CB(1) 512/96-97(03) extract from minutes of meeting held on 23 October 1996
Paper No. CB(1) 512/96-97(04) provided by the Administration in October 1996
Paper No. CB(1) 512/96-97(05) extract from minutes of meeting held on 29 November 1996
Paper No. CB(1) 512/96-97(06) provided by the Administration in November 1996
Paper No. CB(1) 512/96-97(07) provided by the Administration in December 1996
Paper No. CB(1) 1479/96-97(02) extract from minutes of meeting held on 17 December 1996
Paper No. CB(1) 1261/96-97 provided by the Administration in April 1997
Paper No. CB(1) 1479/96-97(03) provided by the Administration in May 1997)
6. At the Chairmans invitation, the Director of Highways (D of HyD) advised that the Administration had commissioned a consultant in October 1996 to carry out a feasibility study on options for road widening at Tai Lam and to produce a preliminary design on the selected option for the Improvements to Tuen Mun Road (TMR) Project. Construction would commence in July 1998 after the scheduled opening of the Tai Lam Tunnel with a view to minimizing disruption to traffic using TMR in the daytime. However, night-time lane closures of TMR were still required during the construction period. The work was scheduled for completion in August 2000. The Administration had ascertained in a recent survey the necessity for improvement works to cope with the growing transport demand. Relevant district boards had been consulted on the recommended option and alternative traffic management schemes in due course.
7. On the mediation results, D of HyD advised that the Mediator was satisfied that the concerned road widening works in Tai Lam section were impossible as he accepted the Contractors evidence that the works could not proceed without frequent and substantial closure of TMR. Otherwise, it would take a lot longer to complete the project with substantial increase in construction cost even if a feasible alternative design could be found. The Mediator also believed that the Contractor had not fraudulently claimed compensation. The Administration had decided not to pursue arbitration, having considered the Attorney General Chambers (AGC) advice that the Administration had made a serious and sufficient commitment to arguing the contractual issues with the Contractor but the outcome was unsuccessful. Therefore, it was unlikely for the mediation result to be overturned given the status and expertise of the Mediator.
8. In response to a member, D of HyD and the Assistant Director of Highways/Major Works (AD of HyD) advised that the road widening option recommended by the consultant involved cutting back into the existing slope for a section of the road and widening into the median using retaining walls for the remaining section. The estimated cost would be in the order of $340 million including expenses on fixing the slope excavated by the Contractor and applying additional safety measures. The Administration would be responsible for the design of the works which would then be put out to tender. The recommended option was different from the original proposal which costed around $100 million. As regards the Contractors claims for compensation, AD for HyD advised that the Contractor had initiated some claims related to the impossibility issue which were being considered by the Administration with AGCs assistance. Notwithstanding, no compensation to the Contractor arising out of the retendering of the works to other contractors was considered justified.
9. A member enquired if it was necessary to proceed with road widening in Tai Lam as traffic in TMR would be diverted to Route 3 (Country Park Section) following its opening in mid-1998. The Acting Commissioner for Transport (Ag. C for T) responded that the suspended works had created a bottleneck in Tai Lam, which undermined the effectiveness of the climbing lane along Tuen Mun Road. The existing sections of the climbing lane could accommodate 400 vehicles per hour, but this would increase to around 750 vehicles per hour following completion of the Tai Lam Section. In addition, the climbing lane would provide useful relief in case of traffic accidents or vehicle breakdowns. The opening of Route 3 (Country Park Section) would divert some traffic away from Tuen Mun Road but in the long term the climbing lane would be useful as Tuen Mun Road would be an important alternative to Route 3.
V.The use of Tung Chung Road as a link between North and South Lantau
(Paper No. CB(1) 1138/96-97 submitted by Mr Serge Berthier
Paper No. CB(1) 1479/96-97(04) provided by the Administration)
10. At the Chairmans invitation, the Assistant Commissioner for Transport/New Territories (AC for T/NT) and Chief Traffic Engineer/New Territories West (CTE/NTW) briefed members on traffic arrangements for Tung Chung Road upon opening of the Lantau Link on 22 May 1997. Tung Chung Road was a village road of 3.5m wide and there were 33 passing places and many sharp bends along its 8 km length. Fifty percent of the road had steep gradients between 1 in 10 and 1 in 5, whereas the standard gradient for roads suitable for buses was 1 in 12. Although traffic was light, there had been five accidents in the past three years and these statistics had confirmed that two-way traffic on a single lane track with excessively steep gradients, sharp bends and poor sightlines was potentially dangerous. A 24-hour prohibition had been imposed since 1991 on all goods vehicles. Other motor vehicles without valid prohibited zone permits were also restricted from entry from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. In view of the anticipated heavier traffic flow on this road following opening of the Lantau Link and the new airport, the 24-hour prohibition would be extended to all vehicles. Fifty more permits would be issued to South Lantau residents who did not hold any permit currently.
11. A member commented that road networks in Lantau Island had not been carefully planned to tie in with the opening of the Lantau Link, which resulted in the imposition of the prohibited zone in Tung Chung Road. This was a highly undesirable arrangement to the public. He enquired about the assessment criteria for issuing prohibited zone permits. In response, AC for T/NT advised that applications from commercial undertakings based in South Lantau and whose operation required the use of Tung Chung Road would be subject to a strict assessment and adequate justifications. Under normal circumstances, only one permit would be issued to each operator. Nevertheless, a looser approach would be adopted for issuing permits to residents to cater for their general transport need. Fifty new permits would be issued to residents in South Lantau and Tung Chung Road for work trips between North and South Lantau. If the number of eligible applications exceeded the number of new permits available, the permits would be allocated by means of balloting. As regards allegation that some Government officials had abused their authority by passing the permits to non-residents, AC for T/NT assured members that the Administration would monitor the situation closely and make sure that the permits were properly used. He also advised that this new system would be reviewed three months after implementation. Factors including road capacity and change in traffic flow of Tung Chung Road would be taken into consideration.
12.AC for T/NT responded to a member that the assessment criteria for residential buses would be equivalent to those for school buses and this was consistent with the policy of encouraging the use of public transport in Tung Chung Road. He agreed with the members suggestion to specify in the assessment criteria that residential buses were also eligible to apply for the permits. Overnight bus services would be provided between North and South Lantau prior to opening of the new airport. In addition, motorcycles were classified as vehicles and no concession for this type of vehicles to use the road was deemed appropriate. Bicycles were however not restricted. Members pointed out that the system of driving-offence points also included offences committed by bicycle riders and that bicycles were classified as vehicles in the relevant ordinance.
13.Members were concerned about enforcement of the proposed traffic restrictions as there were no physical means to bar vehicles from the prohibited zone of Tung Chung Road. In response, AC for T/NT advised that the Transport Department would work closely with the Police to monitor the situation in the initial period after the opening of the Lantau Link, and undertook to provide detailed enforcement arrangements for members reference. Furthermore, he advised that motorists would be subject to a penalty for using Tung Chung Road without a valid permit, but this would incur no driving-offence points.
14. As regards road improvement works for Tung Chung Road, members opined that road widening might not be the best solution to address the transport need in the area, judging from the experience of widening of Tuen Mun Road and Victoria Road. Ag C for T noted members views and advised that the current feasibility study of widening Tung Chung Road would also explore such other options as constructing a new approach road between North and South Lantau.
VI.Park and Ride Scheme
(Paper No. CB(1) 1479/96-97(05) provided by the Administration)
15. At the Chairmans invitation, AC for T/NT advised members that the concept of the scheme was to encourage commuters to use public transport so as to reduce the number of private cars travelling to and from busy commercial districts. A short-term tenancy (STT) site adjacent to the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) Sheung Shui Station had been identified for a trial park and ride scheme. This district was considered suitable for the trial scheme because of new housing developments in the northern part of New Territories. The estimated journey time by car from New Territories to South Kowloon was 80 minutes, and this could be reduced to 45 minutes if commuters parked their cars at KCR Sheung Shui Station and transferred to KCR. A concessionary parking fee of $3 per hour would be introduced to attract private car commuters. The one-year trial scheme was scheduled for commencement towards the end of 1997, and the first review would be conducted after six months.
16.Some members were concerned about possible abuse of parking facilities by commuters who did not really travel to urban areas by KCR. In response, AC for T/NT advised that it was proposed that the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) would certify commuters who had parked and ridden on KCR by stamping on their parking tickets. The Administration would work with KCRC on the detailed arrangements and inform members in due course. He also advised that there would be other means such as issuing electronic parking tickets to guard against abuse. Nevertheless, these measures were not recommended due to the high cost. He also advised that the proposed parking charge would be $8 per hour after KCR service hours.
17. In response to members enquiry on the cost of refurbishing the carpark, the Chief Traffic Engineer/New Territories East (CTE/NTE) advised that $1 million would only be adequate for minor works such as upgrading the road surface of the existing site to a normal operating standard for carpark usage. The cost would be increased to not more than $3 million if works such as fencing, line marking and lighting were included. As it was only a trial scheme, the Deputy Secretary for Transport (Transport Management) (DS for T) assured members that the Administration would strive to apply minimal works for the provision of a carpark with a reasonable standard.
18. On the comment that the above expenses would be wasted if the Administration could not subsequently retain the STT site upon successful implementation of the trial scheme, DS for T said that the main purpose of the trial scheme was to introduce the concept of park and ride and to test commuters acceptability, which was essential for formulating the format of operation of the scheme. The Administration had been actively looking for other sites for operating the scheme in the long run and the STT site might not be the most suitable choice. The Sheung Shui STT site had been earmarked for the Regional Council. Part of the capital cost would be recovered from the revenue of parking charges. Ag C for T added that the park and ride scheme had been considered in the Parking Demand Study and a working group was formed to consider this issue. Car parks had been planned at Airport Railway stations for park and ride purposes. She also said that the carpark in KCR Kowloon Station was not properly used as a park and ride car park as it was located in an urban area and would not serve the purpose of reducing traffic to and from busy business districts.
19. A member was concerned about the impact of the scheme on the operation of the Lion Rock Tunnel and the Tates Cairn Tunnel. In response, AC for T/NT said that the site chosen for the trial scheme could only accommodate up to 200 private cars and it was not envisaged that the trial scheme would have any significant impact on traffic volume. If the trial was successful and the scheme was to be implemented in more sites, the Administration would carefully assess the impact on traffic flow.
20.In response to a members proposal that the park and ride scheme should be extended to cater for motorists transferring to other public transport such as buses and public light buses, AC for T/NT advised that KCR was chosen for trial because it could provide a more efficient public transport mode in comparison with other means of transport. Overseas countries had provided parking facilities adjacent to bus terminals to encourage transfer to buses. The Administration would consider this option for application in Hong Kong in the evaluation of the trial scheme. In addition, he undertook to provide information on the progress of the park and ride scheme proposed for the Mass Transit Railway Ping Shek Station.
21. As regards policy on provision of parking facilities in Hong Kong, DS for T and AC for T/NT advised that no carpark had been built by the Administration since 1985. Instead, the Administration had been encouraging private developers to provide adequate parking spaces in their developments.
22. The Chairman concluded that members generally supported the principle of the park and ride scheme but concerns about implementational aspects of the scheme would need to be resolved.
VII.Any other business
23. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 10:30 a.m.
Legislative Council Secretariat
11 June 1997
Last Updated on 22 August 1998