PLC Paper No. CB(1) 474
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB1/PL/TP/1

Panel on Transport

Minutes of meeting held on Tuesday, 14 October 1997, at 11:30 am in Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP (Chairman)
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok

Member attending :

Hon IP Kwok-him

Members absent :

Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP

Public officers attending :

Mr Nicholas NG, JP
Secretary for Transport

Mr Kevin C M HO, JP
Deputy Secretary for Transport

Miss Nancy LAW, JP
Deputy Secretary for Transport

Mr Isaac CHOW, JP
Deputy Secretary for Transport

Mrs Fanny LAW, JP
Commissioner for Transport

Mr K S LEUNG, Kenneth, JP
Director of Highways

Clerk in attendance :

Ms Estella CHAN,
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4

Staff in attendance :

Ms Pauline NG,
Assistant Secretary General 1

Mr Andy LAU,
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)6

I.Briefing by the Administration on the Chief Executive's Policy Address

At the invitation of the Chairman, the Secretary for Transport (S for T) briefed members on the transport policy commitments for the year ahead. A booklet on the policy programmes and route maps showing the proposed strategic road and railway development in Hong Kong were tabled for members' reference.

Transport Infrastructure

2.Noting that a detailed rolling programme for flat production would be drawn up on a district-by-district basis with a view to achieving the target of producing at least 85,000 flats a year from 1999-2000, members expressed grave concern about whether the Administration could put in place adequate transport infrastructure to tie in with the intake of population, in particular, when some of the strategic road and railway development projects were still under examination and detailed construction programmes had yet to be drawn up. S for T responded that the Administration was also concerned about the timely provision of a comprehensive transport infrastructural network to support and enhance economic development, land use and housing development, and to strengthen road and rail links with the Mainland to cater for the increasing flow of passenger and freight traffic. To this end, a number of territory-wide road networks would be examined under the Third Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS-3). These included :

  1. a new Western Highway to connect the western part of Hong Kong Island with the Northwest New Territories via Lantau;

  2. a new Eastern Highway from the main urban area through the Eastern New Territories;

  3. an east-west route to connect the Eastern and Western Highways in the New Territories; and

  4. a Central Kowloon route to ease traffic flow between West Kowloon and Southeast Kowloon.

3.As to railway development, S for T clarified in response to a member's query that the Administration aimed to complete the Mass Transit Railway Tseung Kwan O Extension by 2002. Apart from the high priority projects recommended under the 1994 Railway Development Strategy, the Administration would examine, amongst other things, the following longer-term projects in the context of a review of the Railway Development Strategy, taking into account a higher population forecast since 1994:

  1. a fourth cross-harbour rail link;

  2. the East Kowloon Line;

  3. a second connection from the Ma On Shan/Tai Wai rail link to the urban areas;

  4. North Hong Kong Island MTR Line; and

  5. West Hong Kong Island MTR Line.

4.On members' further query regarding the provision of transport infrastructure to permit more intensive public and private housing development to meet the housing targets pledged in the Policy Address, S for T advised that most of the housing sites identified for development were already equipped with the basic infrastructure. The proposed strategic road and railway development projects set out in paragraphs 2 and 3 above were intended to provide a comprehensive transport network to serve Hong Kong's longer term demands and potential traffic concerns. To match with the growing supply of housing units in individual districts, the Administration would conduct traffic impact assessment study and bring in additional infrastructure to complement the rising demand, if necessary. On project control, S for T advised that a Steering Committee on Land Supply for Housing had been set up under the chairmanship of the Financial Secretary to monitor the progress of housing development and housing-related infrastructural projects.

5.As regards measures to speed up the transport infrastructural projects, S for T advised that it was always the intention of the Administration to speed up the delivery of road projects. However, in view of the complexity of large scale transport infrastructural projects and taking into account the necessary statutory procedures and construction works, it would inevitably take a long time to complete these projects, not to mention the possible delay caused by unforeseeable factors which might be encountered during the process. The Administration would continue to look for possible means to speed up and streamline the planning, statutory and construction processes with a view to accelerating the completion of projects.

6.Members nevertheless stressed the importance of speeding up the transport infrastructural projects to correspond with the flat production programme so that the transport problems experienced by residents of new towns such as Tuen Mun and Tung Chung could be avoided. A member suggested that the relevant Panels should jointly monitor the infrastructural development in keeping pace with the housing development targets.

7.As to whether roads in urban areas would have adequate capacity to absorb the additional traffic generated from the strategic highways, S for T advised that whilst there might be technical difficulties to expand existing road networks in urban areas, the Administration would consider building new roads, flyovers or underpasses to relieve traffic congestion where appropriate. They would ensure that the community obtain the maximum benefit from sharing the highly limited road space through the use of traffic management measures such as restriction on loading and unloading activities, parking control and re-routeing of traffic etc. They were also looking towards adopting new technological aids to help solve the problem, and had commissioned a feasibility study on Electronic Road Pricing.

Improvement to Hiram's Highway

8.A member pointed out that in a recent meeting with the Sai Kung Provisional District Board, the Board's members expressed grave concern about the traffic congestion in Sai Kung district and requested the Administration to upgrade the Hiram's Highway to a dual two-lane carriageway.

9.In reply, the Director of Highways said that a new interchange with a flyover and subway at the junction of Clearwater Bay Road and Hiram's Highway was being constructed to improve the traffic to and from Sai Kung area via Clearwater Bay Road. As for the upgrading of Hiram's Highway to a dual two-lane carriageway, he advised that due to its long length, there was a plan to widen only part of the carriageway at the moment. In this respect, he would provide further information in writing after the meeting.

Cross-boundary traffic

10.Noting that private vehicles were currently under tight restriction when passing through the control points between Hong Kong and the Mainland, a member urged the Administration to review the matter with a view to relaxing the restriction to maximize usage and enhance efficiency. In response, S for T advised that the Administration was committed to strengthening the road and rail links with the Mainland to cater for the increasing flow of passenger and freight traffic. However, due to resource constraints and the need to sort out the necessary arrangements with the Mainland's authority, the related work could only be prioritized and carried out in phases. For the time being, priority would be given to carriers of higher economic values.


11.A member opined that the Star Ferry Company Limited (SF) was able to provide a proper and efficient ferry service and queried the need to consider granting SF a new franchise with a smaller network and putting out to tender routes so excised. He also considered the delay in renewing SF's franchise unfair to the operator and urged the Administration to speed up the related work. S for T responded that the Administration was working on the subject and would consider the performance of the company and public views before making a decision. The Chairman reminded members that the subject of " Franchise of ferry services' would be discussed at a special meeting scheduled for 22 October 1997.

12.In response to members' request, S for T agreed to provide an information paper on the role of waterborne transport as a supplementary means of transportation in Hong Kong.

Monitoring of Public Transport

13.In response to a member's observation that the monitoring of public transport was not included in the Bureau's policy programme, S for T said that the Administration would continue to monitor closely public transport services in the usual manner although the work was not highlighted in the policy programme. As regards the monitoring of the railway corporations, S for T advised that at the motion debate on 3 September 1997, the Administration undertook to carry out a comprehensive review on the monitoring of the development and operation of the railway corporations in Hong Kong within a year's time. They would report to the Council and the Panel in due course.

II.Any other Business

14.There being no other business, the meeting ended at 12:30 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
11 November 1997