PROVISIONAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
PANEL ON TRANSPORT
Additional Fare for
Taxi Passengers Using Harbour Crossings
With effect from 1 January 1998, the Eastern Harbour Crossing (EHC) tolls will be revised, including the toll for taxis. In the light of this revision, it is necessary to review the level of additional fare payable by taxi passengers using the Cross-Harbour Tunnel (CHT), the EHC and the Western Harbour Crossing (WHC).
2. At present, a taxi passenger using the CHT or the EHC is required to pay an additional fare which is twice the appropriate toll i.e. $20. The purpose is to reimburse the taxi driver for the tunnel toll which he has paid during the hiring (the tunnel toll) and the toll for bringing back the vehicle (the return toll) via the CHT or the EHC if he cannot obtain a hire on the return journey.
3. In the case of crossing the harbour via the WHC which was opened to traffic in April this year, a taxi passenger is required to pay an additional fare of $40 comprising the $30 WHC toll paid by the taxi driver and the $10 return toll for crossing the harbour via the CHT or the EHC. This charging arrangement ensures that these taxi drivers have two alternative cross-harbour routes to return to their operating base. It also helps spread out cross-harbour traffic among the three crossings.
4. An exception to the above arrangements is made at the cross-harbour taxi stands where taxi passengers making a cross-harbour trip are required to pay only a single toll, in addition to the normal taxi fare.
5. Following the arbitration sought by the EHC operating company, a taxi using the EHC will have to pay a toll of $15, instead of $10, with effect from 1 January 1998. It is therefore necessary to review the level of additional fare payable by taxi passengers using the three harbour crossings.
Cross-Harbour Traffic Conditions
6. After the opening of the WHC, the Transport Department has conducted surveys to assess the changes in the traffic conditions on and near the three harbour crossings, the proportion of empty taxis crossing the harbour, and the waiting times at the cross-harbour taxi stands. The major findings are as follows -
- there has been an overall increase in cross-harbour traffic, a reduction of traffic at the CHT and EHC, and a redistribution of tunnel traffic from the CHT to the WHC and in turn, because of improved traffic conditions at the CHT, from the EHC to the CHT;
- similar to the overall cross-harbour traffic, there has been a redistribution of taxi traffic from the CHT to the WHC and from the EHC to the CHT, and the overall improved cross-harbour traffic conditions have attracted higher taxi usage;
- empty taxis accounted for 13.1% of cross-harbour taxi traffic -4.9% at the WHC, 8.9% at the CHT and 23.4% at the EHC; and
- the taxi waiting time at cross-harbour taxi stands remained largely the same, averaging about 20 minutes.
The Views of the Administration
7. The Administration has considered five options for revising the additional fares payable by cross-harbour taxi passengers (see Annex A) vis-�vis the EHC toll increase. Taking account of the traffic implications and the interests of the taxi trade and passengers, the Administration recommends Option E which will increase the return toll for taxi passengers using all three cross-harbour tunnels from $10 to $15.
8. Under each of these five options, taxi passengers making a cross-harbour trip from cross-harbour taxi stands will continue to be required to pay the appropriate tunnel tolls only.
9. From the traffic management angle, Option E will encourage a more even spread of taxi traffic among the three harbour crossings due to -
- the relatively low differential amongst the additional fares payable by taxi passengers using the three harbour crossings; and
- the availability of two alternative cross-harbour routes for all empty taxis.
10. The Administration considers that Option E will help spread out the financial burden of any toll increase between taxi drivers and passengers. In addition, Option E is less confusing to the general public and the additional $5 should not create an undue financial burden to taxi passengers who have a choice of alternative modes of cross-harbour public transport services.
The Views of the TAC
11. Among the five options at Annex A, the TAC has recommended Option C which will increase the return toll for those taxi passengers using the EHC and the WHC from $10 to $15 after taking into account the following -
- It is necessary to increase the return toll payable by taxi passengers using the EHC; otherwise a taxi driver failing to obtain a hire would have to pay $5 out of pocket on his return journey via the EHC, or suffer congestion and longer queuing time at the CHT.
- For those taxi passengers using the WHC, the return toll should be increased from $10 to $15 so as to provide a choice of two alternative cross-harbour routes (the CHT or the EHC) for empty taxis. This is in line with the rationale for the existing charging arrangement set out in paragraph 3 above.
- The return toll for the CHT should be maintained at $10 because an extra $5 would only have a marginal impact on traffic management, taking into account the CHT*s relatively more central location among the three harbour crossings.
The Views of the Taxi Trade
12. The taxi trade has all along been advocating a double-toll arrangement for each of the three harbour crossings, i.e. Option D.
13 October 1997
Additional Fares for Taxi Passengers using Harbour Crossings
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Last Updated on 24 October 1997