LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1762/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PL/TP/1

LegCo Panel on Transport

Minutes of the meeting held on Friday, 11 April 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)
    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 CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    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 S T HO, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok

Public officers attending :

    For Item IV

    Transport Branch

    Mr Paul LEUNG, JP,
    Ag. Secretary for Transport

    Miss Nancy LAW, JP,
    Deputy Secretary for Transport

    Ms Maureen WONG,
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport

    Transport Department

    Mrs Dorothy CHAN,
    Ag. Commissioner for Transport

    Mr T Y LEE,
    Assistant Commissioner for Transport/Urban

    Mr K C CHING,
    Chief Traffic Engineer/Hong Kong Region

    For Item V

    Transport Branch

    Mr Paul LEUNG, JP,
    Ag. Secretary for Transport

    Miss Nancy LAW, JP,
    Deputy Secretary for Transport

    Transport Department

    Mrs Dorothy CHAN,
    Ag. Commissioner for Transport

    Mr F K LAI,
    Government Engineer/Port & Airport Development Branch

    Mr K C CHING,
    Chief Traffic Engineer/Hong Kong Region

    Mrs Joanna KWOK,
    Chief Traffic Engineer/Kowloon Region

    Mr Y M LEE,
    Chief Traffic Engineer/New Territories West Region

    For Item VI

    Transport Branch

    Mr Paul LEUNG, JP,
    Ag. Secretary for Transport

    Miss Nancy LAW, JP,
    Deputy Secretary for Transport

    Transport Department

    Mrs Dorothy CHAN,
    Ag. Commissioner for Transport

    Mr Alan LUI,
    Assistant Commissioner for Transport/New Territories

    Mr Stephen IP,
    Chief Transport Officer/Tsing Ma Division

    Attendance by invitation:

    For Item IV

    Mr CHEN Shao-chi,
    Chairman, Atkins China Ltd.

    Mr Robin LI,
    Associate Director, Atkins China Ltd.

Clerk in attendance :

    Ms Estella CHAN,
    Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4

Staff in attendance :

    Mr Matthew LOO,
    Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4

I.Confirmation of minutes and matters arising

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1228/96-97)

The minutes of the meeting held on 21 February 1997 were confirmed.

II.Information papers issued since last meeting

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1138/96-97 -- Submission on road closure between South Lantau and the Lantau Link

LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1173/96-96 -- Research report on LPG As a Fuel For Vehicles)

2. Members noted the information papers issued since the last meeting. The Chairman advised that a response was forthcoming from the Administration on the submission regarding traffic restrictions in Tung Chung Road between South Lantau and the Lantau Link. On the research report prepared by the Research and Library Services Division regarding the use of LPG as a fuel for vehicles, the Panel agreed to discuss the subject when the Administration was ready with a trial scheme for taxis to use LPG. Members of the Panel on Planning, Lands and Works would be invited to join the discussion.

III.Items for discussion for the next meeting scheduled for 9 May 1997

(List of outstanding items for discussion)

3. The Panel agreed to discuss the following subjects at the next meeting on 9 May 1997:

  1. the use of Tung Chung Road as a link between North and South Lantau; and

  2. Tuen Mun Road widening work mediation case and latest developments of the project.

Members also agreed to request the Administration to provide written updates on the subjects included in the list of outstanding items for discussion. At the next meeting, members would consider the updates and decide on the priorities of subjects to be discussed in future. Admin

IV.Feasibility study of inter-district bus-only lanes

(Paper No. CB(1) 1227/96-97(01) provided by the Administration)

4. At the Chairman’s invitation, the Assistant Commissioner for Transport/Urban (AC for T/U) advised that the feasibility study of inter-district bus-only lanes (BOLs) was conducted in accordance with the recommendation by the Working Group on Measures to Address Traffic Congestion for a higher priority to be given to buses in the use of road space. In the study, six major inter-district traffic corridors were identified and detailed investigations for the Aberdeen - Wan Chai corridor and the Kwun Tong - To Kwa Wan/Hung Hom - Tsim Sha Tsui corridors had been completed. The relevant district boards had no objections in principle to the proposed BOL for the Aberdeen - Wan Chai corridor and had agreed to the implementation of a trial scheme. The scheme would be implemented in two stages. The first stage to be implemented in June 1997 would include BOLs in Aberdeen along Wong Chuk Hang Road and in Wan Chai along Morrison Hill Road. The remainder of the scheme would be implemented in November 1997. During the trial period, the Administration would closely monitor the situation and conduct traffic surveys to evaluate the efficiency as well as impact on traffic in other areas.

5.Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin said that the Democratic Party basically supported the BOL scheme, but he was concerned about the impact on non-bus passengers. AC for T/U estimated that the BOLs along the Aberdeen - Wan Chai corridor would delay other road users for not more than four minutes. Mr Robin LI supplemented that this figure was derived from a computer model specially designed for the assessment of road capacity and this estimate would be further refined by traffic surveys. He also advised that the trial scheme would not result in drastic changes in the number of vehicles using the above corridor, and undertook to provide the estimated capacity of the affected roads for members’ reference. Admin

6. Some members opined that the proposed BOL along Hennessy Road would result in serious traffic congestion in Wan Chai. They were concerned that this arrangement might divert mini-buses to Lockhart Road and jeopardize traffic there. A member noted that there were already BOLs in Queen’s Road Central and enquired if new BOLs along Hennessy Road were necessary. AC for T/U and the Chief Traffic Engineer/Hong Kong Region (CTE/HK) responded that illegal parking was the root cause of traffic congestion currently experienced in Lockhart Road. Following implementation of the BOL, the Administration would replace on-street metered parking spaces along Lockhart Road with loading areas and mini-bus boarding areas with a view to relieving the congestion. This new traffic arrangement along Lockhart Road was considered feasible as a recent survey conducted by the Administration concluded that off-street public parking facilities were still under-utilized in Wan Chai. Furthermore, as the trend of development in Wan Chai was towards the North, the relocation of existing boarding and alighting places along westbound Hennessy Road would correspond with traffic needs arising from this trend. As regards the major bottleneck at the Canal Road junction, CTE/HK advised that as there was a pedestrian crossing at this junction, the traffic had to be controlled by a traffic light. This arrangement would not be altered following the introduction of BOLs. In response to a member’s concern about the impact of road works on traffic in Hennessy Road, AC for T/U assured that not more than one lane would be closed for road works at any one time.

7.As regards consultation for the scheme, AC for T/U affirmed that related trades had been consulted and that there was a general consensus on the principle of the trial scheme. The views of the Public Light Bus (PLB) Associations and the taxi trade regarding appropriate spots for boarding and alighting of passengers had been taken into account in designing the scheme. For instance, a new taxi stand at Shun Tak Street off Morrison Hill Road would be established for boarding. At members’ request, he agreed to provide a summary of views of parties consulted on the scheme. Admin

8.Some members queried the effectiveness of the proposed scheme in which the BOLs were divided into several segments. They recalled the experience in Tuen Mun Road where bottlenecks were formed at entrances to segments of the BOL. In response, CTE/HK advised that the design of BOLs in urban areas was different from that for highways such as Tuen Mun Road. The former was constrained by a large number of junctions and traffic flow in the vicinity. For the proposed trial scheme, each segment of a BOL would end before a junction in order to allow adequate space for other vehicles to queue up before traffic lights. Under this arrangement, buses would use the same lane as other vehicles at the end of each segment of BOL. Nevertheless, he advised that as more experience was gained in the trial scheme, the design of territory-wide BOLs would be reviewed. Upon members’ request, CTE/HK undertook to provide the estimated traffic flow of each junction covered by the trial scheme. Admin

9.Some members enquired if PLBs could be allowed in BOLs. Depending on circumstances, green minibuses were permitted to use BOLs. Other modes might also include school buses. PLB operators could apply for a permit to travel in BOLs and the Administration would consider their applications on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the capacity of BOLs and boarding spaces for PLBs. At a member’s suggestion, the Acting Secretary for Transport (Ag S for T) agreed to assess the implications of allowing other modes to use BOLs based on experience obtained in other districts. Admin

10.The Chairman concluded that the Panel supported the principle of BOLs but members were concerned about the practical difficulties in implementation for which solutions had to be worked out by the Administration. As regards the suggestion to delay implementation of the scheme for a few months pending the stabilization of new traffic flow following the opening of the Western Harbour Crossing in April 1997, Ag S for T undertook to review the schedule of the scheme and keep members informed. Admin

V.Opening of Western Harbour Crossing and Lantau Link

(Paper No. CB(1) 1227/96-97(02) provided by the Administration)

11. At the Chairman’s invitation, the Government Engineer/Port & Airport Development Branch (GE) briefed members on traffic arrangements for the opening of the Western Harbour Crossing (WHC) and Lantau Link. For WHC which was scheduled for opening on 30 April 1997, an estimated 2,100 vehicles would be carried in one direction during peak hours in the initial period of operation. New high capacity roads including the Rumsey Street Flyover and Route 7 between Sheung Wan and Belcher Bay and West Kowloon Expressway had been provided. A total of 15 road improvement projects and traffic management measures had also been carried out to enhance the adjacent road networks. The Administration would closely monitor traffic conditions and fine tune traffic management measures as required. In addition, some 200 directional signs in the urban areas had been added or modified in order to give motorists clear guidance on the access routes to WHC. New tunnel signs, which classified the three cross-harbour tunnels into ‘East’, ‘Central’ and ‘West’ would be adopted. As regards the Lantau Link scheduled to open on 22 May 1997, the initial traffic volume should be very light before the opening of the new airport. Furthermore, the Ting Kau Bridge which was scheduled for completion towards the end of 1997 would relieve traffic situations in Tsuen Wan Road when the new airport opened in 1998 by diverting some North West New Territories traffic to this alternative route.

12.The Panel agreed that the tunnel company should be requested to offer concessions to motorists during an initial period after the opening of WHC. The Deputy Secretary for Transport advised that this was being considered by the tunnel company and undertook to convey the Panel’s view to the company for consideration. Admin

13. In response to a member, GE advised that the estimated traffic flow of 2,100 vehicles for WHC was derived from a computer transportation model based on the toll scenario of $30 for WHC with toll levels of the other two cross-harbour tunnels remaining unchanged. CTE/HK further advised that around 700 to 800 vehicles coming from WHC would go to Southern District via Western District, of which only 200 to 300 would pass through Kennedy Town. The existing road network, together with the road improvement work and traffic management measures introduced in Pokfield Road and Kennedy Town should be able to cope with the increased traffic flow after the opening of WHC. Additional measures would be introduced as necessary. He also assured that the road improvement work in Victoria Road would be completed in September 1997 as scheduled.

14. On the concern about the impact of the WHC on existing traffic congestion in Jordan Road prior to the completion of Road SR4, the Chief Traffic Engineer/Kowloon Region advised that Road SR4 might not be required at this stage as the new road network in the West Kowloon reclamation area should be able to meet the traffic increase. She also said that existing traffic jam in Ferry Street was caused by road improvement works which would be completed soon. In addition, drainage repair and maintenance work in Jordan Road which could not be completed before the WHC opening would be suspended until the completion of Road SR4. The affected road surface would be refurbished temporarily in the meantime.

15. Some members expressed concern that the opening of the Lantau Link would adversely affect traffic in Tsuen Wan prior to the completion of the Ting Kau Bridge, if the enhancement of adjacent road networks in Tsuen Wan could not be completed on schedule. In response, the Chief Traffic Engineer/New Territories West Region (CTE/NTW) advised that additional traffic generated by the opening of the Lantau Link prior to the completion of new airport would be very small and would only have minimal effect on traffic in Tsuen Wan. Notwithstanding, all junction improvement projects, including those on Tsing Yi Road West and at Tam Kon Shan Interchange, would be completed by mid-May. As regards members’ concern about road maintenance works on Texaco Road, CTE/NTW undertook to ask Highways Department to complete the works as soon as possible.

16. As to whether the Tsing Yi North Bridge and Tsing Yi South Bridge would be capable of carrying an extra load of 200 vehicles per hour after the opening of the Lantau Link, CTE/NTW advised that Tsing Yi North Bridge, currently carrying 1,600 vehicles per hour in one direction, operated to about 50% of the capacity of this dual two-lane Bridge. It had adequate spare capacity to cope with the increasing traffic even after the opening of the new airport in 1998. The traffic on Tsing Yi South Bridge would be improved upon completion of the Duplicate Tsing Yi South Bridge scheduled for completion by the end of 1998. He also advised that motorists from Northwest New Territories could reach Kowloon through Route 3 after the opening of Ting Kau Bridge, which would reduce traffic on the section of Tuen Mun Road east of this Bridge and Tsuen Wan Road by 15% to 25%.

17.Members suggested that police should be deployed to control traffic at appropriate points in the initial period of the opening of WHC and the Lantau Link, particularly at the junction of Pokfulam Road and Pokfield Road, Texaco Road Roundabout and Tam Kon Shan Interchange. GE noted members’ suggestion. He also undertook to provide information on the estimated road capacity and traffic flow of roads identified in the plans annexed to the information paper. Admin

18.As regards the compatibility of the autotoll systems for tunnels, the Acting Commissioner for Transport would confirm whether the systems adopted by the three cross-harbour tunnels were the same. Admin

VI.Contingency strategies for the closure of land link to North Lantau and the new airport before airport opening

(Paper No. CB(1) 1227/96-97(03) provided by the Administration)

19. At the Chairman’s invitation, the Assistant Commissioner for Transport/New Territories (AC for T/NT) briefed members on the contingency strategies for handling disruption of the land link to North Lantau and the new airport, viz. the Tsing Ma Control Area and the North Lantau Expressway, before the opening of the new airport in April 1998. In essence, alternative routes would be available for access to and from the Lantau Link in the event of partial closure of the land link to the new Airport. Vehicles would be diverted to the lower deck of the Lantau Link if the upper deck was closed due to high wind condition. In case of complete closure of the land link, special ferry services and shuttle bus services to and from the new airport would be arranged. In developing contingency strategies for different scenarios, the Administration had tried to minimize inconvenience to the travelling public and give priority to airport-bound passengers. AC for T/NT assured members that the Administration would expedite recovery action and maintain close contact with concerned parties in implementing the arrangements, and make prompt public announcements. He also advised that a further paper would be provided on the contingency strategies for closure of road and rail links after the airport opening.

20. As regards the provision of special ferry services in case of complete closure of the land link, AC for T/NT advised that as it would take at least two hours to arrange such services, and that such arrangements would only be appropriate for prolonged closure of the land link. Under such circumstances, high-speed ferries with seating capacity of 400 would be used and prompt public announcement would also be made to advise the public not to use the land link. On the financial arrangement for these services, AC for T/NT said that the ferry operators would charge the passengers for these services and the Administration would only pay for the additional cost incurred, if any, for special berthing arrangements. This was similar to the previous arrangement when Tuen Mun Road was closed due to a rockfall incident. He noted a member’s suggestion that special services operating from Tsuen Wan should be provided to different locations such as Tsing Lung Tau and Tuen Mun. However, he cautioned that the additional road traffic which might be generated on Tuen Mun Road had to be taken into consideration. AC for T/NT also advised that bus services would still be provided on the lower deck of the Lantau Link shortly after Typhoon Signal No. 8 was hoisted.

21. Regarding the concern about prolonged road closure after even minor traffic accidents, the Chief Transport Officer/Tsing Ma Division advised that the management of the Tsing Ma Control Area was contracted out to a private operator who was required to clear the road surface within 20 minutes in case of minor accidents. Under this pledge, prolonged road closure due to traffic accidents would be rare. AC for T/NT also noted a member’s advice to speed up construction of the Tsing Yi North Coastal Road which would be a major alternative route to relieve traffic congestion in case of serious traffic accidents in the vicinity of Cheung Ching Tunnel.

VII.Any other business

22. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 10:30 a.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat

4 June 1997

Last Updated on 22 August 1998