Legislative Council Panel on Transport
Proposal to Create
a Principal Government Engineer (PGE) (D3) Post
in Transport Department (TD)


The Commissioner for Transport (C for T) proposes to create a PGE post in TD to meet the increased workload and responsibility of TD and to provide engineering input at a senior directorate level in transport planning and traffic management activities.

Increased workload and responsibility

2. C for T (D6) is currently supported by a Deputy Commissioner for Transport (DC) (D3). Since the creation of the DC post in 1979, the workload and responsibility of TD have increased substantially as a consequence of the growth in population and economic activities. A brief description of these developments is given below:

  1. Transport planning - to cope with the increase in population and in cross-border economic activities, TD has to provide substantial input in planning and implementing transport links both within the territory and neighbouring areas. This activity is assuming increasing importance;
  2. Public transport services - since 1979, passenger trips made by public transport have grown by 54% and the number of franchised bus operators from 3 to 5. To ensure a better and more efficient bus service, operators regularly review their existing networks and develop new routes in consultation with TD. In addition, new bus franchises (one existing and two anticipated in 1997) now include provision for a mid-term review during the franchise period. Both the ongoing planning activities and the reviews will draw on TD resources at a senior level;
  3. Infrastructure development - during this period, our road network has grown by some 50%, from 1,150 km in 1979 to 1,720 km at present. Major transport infrastructure items coming on stream during the next two years include the Western Harbour Crossing (WHC) and the connecting road systems, the Lantau Link, the Airport Railway and Route 3. This entails major changes in the provision of public transport services and places new demands on TD in terms of facility and traffic management; and
  4. Technological development - to monitor and control traffic in the vastly expanded transport network, particularly on expressways and in tunnels, TD has to keep abreast with, and make the best use of, the latest technological advances in traffic management. This includes computerised area traffic control, closed circuit television, emergency telephone and autotoll collection systems.

3. The department’s interface with the public has also increased. Our community now takes a much greater interest in the formulation of transport policy, the planning and provision of public transport services and the implementation of traffic management schemes. Before introducing any new measure, TD has to carry out extensive and, in some cases prolonged, consultation with the parties concerned, including the Legislative Council Transport Panel and District Boards with involvement by transport operators. This often requires the direction and involvement of C for T at the strategic level and DC at the local level.

4. Increasing concern with the protection of the environment also has an impact on the department's work. TD is heavily involved in the study of alternative fuel for diesel vehicles, particularly in evaluating the impact of various proposals on the affected transport modes and in liaising with the trade.

5. The situation has now been reached where C for T and DC are unable to give the various areas the level of attention they deserve.

Engineering input at senior level

6. In addition to the above general increase in the complexity and volume of work falling on C for T and DC and the department itself, there is an increasing need for additional engineering input at a senior directorate level. At present the bulk of the burden for this falls on Assistant Commissioner for Transport/Technical Services and Planning (AC/TSP). As shown in the existing organisation of TD at Enclosure 1, AC/TSP is responsible for seven Divisions : namely, Area Traffic Control Division, Electronic Road Pricing Division, Highway Surveillance and Systems Division, Road Safety & Standards Division, Territory Transport Planning Division, Traffic and Transport Survey Division and Headquarters (Computer Services) Unit. Six Chief Engineers and one Senior Engineer work to him. This is unsatisfactory because the complexity, importance and magnitude of the subjects warrant the attention of a more senior officer - and AC/TSP simply cannot cope with the volume and level of work, which is further described in paragraphs 7 to 10 below.

Cross-border transport links and Third Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS-3)

7. The recently published Territorial Development Strategy Review has pointed to the need to accommodate a significant increase in population and the infra-structure development needed to accommodate it. At the same time, TD is actively involved in the planning of improvements to existing cross-border facilities and new links to meet the rapid increase in cross-border traffic. TD is also responsible for ensuring close interface of these planning activities with CTS-3, which will start in early 1997 to formulate an integrated transport strategy up to 2011 as a guide to future transport planning studies and development strategies for different areas in Hong Kong.

Strategic Road Network (SRN) Study

8. In view of the expansion of our network of strategic roads and expressways and the increasing volume of traffic using this network, we need to study various options, including the introduction of an "Intelligent Transport System", for managing it in the most efficient manner. As suggested by the Panel, TD will first carry out a literature review. Subject to availability of funds, a detailed study will be carried out in late 1998 to examine the options best suited to Hong Kong, the related management and operational arrangements and the resource requirements.

Railway projects

9. The planning and the design of the Western Corridor Railway, the MTR Tseung Kwan O, improvements to the MTR Island Line, the Ma On Shan to Tai Wai rail link and the KCR extension from Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui require substantial traffic and transport input from TD. In addition, the department assesses the traffic implications of proposed developments associated with the projects.

Electronic Road Pricing (ERP)

10. TD has set up an ERP Division headed by a Chief Engineer (CE) (D1) to manage the consultancy study to consider the feasibility of introducing ERP to Hong Kong. In view of the complexity and long-term implications of the study and the technological and engineering matters involved, CE/ERP should be guided by a senior directorate officer who can devote more time and attention to the project.

Span of control

11. As stated in paragraph 2 above, C for T is currently supported by one DC. The span of control of the DC post has increased more than three-fold since its creation in 1979 : seven D2 officers currently work to her compared with two in 1979, in addition to the Departmental Secretary, the Senior Treasury Accountant and the Internal Audit Team. At the same time, there has been a 73% increase in the establishment of TD, from 764 to 1323 posts. To relieve DC of her heavy workload, C for T has taken up a number of major subjects with relevant D2 officers direct. These include transport and traffic matters related to the commissioning of the WHC, the safety of school transport, the study of alternative fuel for diesel vehicles and policies for the planning and development of taxi and ferry services.

12. In addition to their regular duties, both C for T and DC have to deal with unforeseen problems which, if not handled immediately and effectively, would seriously affect the provision of transport services. They include labour disputes in the transport sector or disruptions in the services of a mass carrier. In these situations, C for T and/or DC are personally responsible for formulating a strategy, giving directions and deploying resources. This responsibility imposes a further demand on the senior directorate which is already fully stretched.

Proposed structure

13. C for T proposes to restructure the directorate in TD. The existing DC, to be redesignated as DC/Management and Operations, will be responsible for the management and operations of transport services. She will oversee the work of AC/Bus Development (AC/BD), AC/Ferry and Paratransit, AC/Management and Licensing and the two ACs in charge of the regional offices. She will also supervise the administration of the department. The new PGE, to be designated as DC/Planning and Technical Services, will be responsible for transport planning and direct the development of strategic transport infrastructure for the territory, including cross-border links, and provide input in the review of transport policy on traffic management. He will oversee the work of Government Engineer/Port and Airport Development (GE/PAD) and AC/TSP (to be redesignated as AC/Technical Services). In addition, he will take over the existing transport planning and ERP functions from AC/TSP. He will supervise CE/Transport Planning and CE/ERP. Moreover, he will give professional advice on traffic engineering matters to the regional ACs. A chart showing the proposed organisation is at Enclosure 2.

Financial implications

14. The additional notional annual salary cost of this proposal at mid-point (1996-97 price) is $1,478,400 and the full annual average staff cost including salaries and staff on-costs is $2,454,084. We have included sufficient provisions in the Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal.

The way forward

15. Subject to Members' support, we intend to submit the proposal to the Establishment Subcommittee of Finance Committee on 29 January 1997.

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