LC Paper No. CB(1) 574/98-99
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)

Ref: CB1/PL/TP

LegCo Panel on Transport

Minutes of meeting held on
Friday, 23 October 1998, at 10:45 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP (Chairman)
Hon LAU Kong-wah (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon LEE Kai-ming, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, JP
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon LAU Chin-shek, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Public officers attending:

Item I

Mr Nicholas NG Wing-fui
Secretary for Transport

Mrs Fanny LAW
Commissioner for Transport

Ms Linda LAI
Deputy Secretary for Transport / Transport Services

Mr Alex FONG
Deputy Secretary for Transport / Railways

Item IV

Mr Nicholas NG Wing-fui
Secretary for Transport

Mrs Fanny LAW
Commissioner for Transport

Mr Kevin HO
Deputy Secretary for Transport /
Planning and Management

Government Engineer /
Railway Development

Item V

Mr Nicholas NG Wing-fui
Secretary for Transport

Mrs Fanny LAW
Commissioner for Transport

Mr Alex FONG
Deputy Secretary for Transport / Railways

Mr KAM Wai-yip
Deputy Commissioner for Transport

Item VI

Mrs Fanny LAW
Commissioner for Transport

Mr KAM Wai-yip
Deputy Commissioner for Transport

Mr Kevin HO
Deputy Secretary for Transport /
Planning and Management
Attendance by invitation :
Item IV

Mr James BLAKE
Senior Director, Capital Projects,
Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC)

Mr Samuel LAI
Director, Finance, KCRC

Director, East Rail, KCRC
Clerk in attendance :
Mr Andy LAU,
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)6
Staff in attendance :
Miss Connie FUNG,
Assistant Legal Adviser 3

Mr Daniel HUI,
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)5
I Confirmation of minutes and matters arising
(LC Paper No. CB(1)340/98-99 - Minutes of the meeting held on 25 September 1998 LC Paper No. CB(1)339/98-99(01) - Review of the Transport Advisory Committee - Supplementary Note)

Confirmation of Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on 25 September 1998 were confirmed.

Matters arising

2. The Chairman asked members to note the information paper issued by the Administration in response to members' request for further information on the reasons for not establishing an independent committee to examine fare adjustment proposals from public transport operators. The subject was raised when discussing the review of the Transport Advisory Committee at the Panel meeting on 25 September 1998. Members raised no questions on the paper.

3. Referring to the legal procedure for adjustment in fares of licensed ferry services raised by Mr LAU Chin-shek, the Chairman advised members that Mr LAU had consulted the Legal Adviser (LA) and was given to understand that a Gazette notice made by the Commissioner for Transport ( C for T) under section 33(1) of the Ferry Services Ordinance (Cap. 104) on maximum fares that might be charged on any licensed ferry service was subsidiary legislation and hence subject to scrutiny by LegCo. However, the Administration was of the view that such notice did not have legislative effect and was therefore not subsidiary legislation subject to LegCo's approval.

4. Given that the above issue would require further examination by legal advisers of both sides and having regard to the fact that it was not included on the agenda for the meeting, it was agreed that the subject matter be further discussed at the forthcoming meeting to be held on 27 November 1998 under the item on the progress of tendering out Hong Kong and Yaumati Ferry Co Ltd's franchised services.

(Post-meeting note: Copies of the relevant correspondence between Mr LAU Chin-shek, LA, and the Administration were circulated to members vide LC Paper Nos. CB(1)370/98-99(01) and (02)).

5. As regards the review of the bus fare determination mechanism, C for T advised that the consultant engaged by the Administration on establishing a bus fare determining mechanism had completed its preliminary study on the subject and was collecting views from the bus companies on the consultant's preliminary proposal. Secretary for Transport (S for T) added that the Administration aimed to complete the study by early 1999. In view of members' concern on the subject matter, the Chairman suggested and members agreed that the Administration should aim to brief members on the progress of the said review at the regular meeting to be held in January 1999.

II Information papers issued since last meeting
(LC Paper No. CB(1)282/98-99 - Widening of sections of Tolo Highway and Yuen Long Highway LC Paper No. CB(1)346/98-99 - "A Ferry Service for All")

6. Members noted the information papers issued since last meeting.

III Items for discussion at the next meeting scheduled for 27 November 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(1)339/98-99(02) - List of outstanding items for discussion)

7. Members agreed to discuss the following items as suggested by the Administration at the meeting scheduled for 27 November 1998:

  1. Expiry of Cross Harbour Tunnel's franchise;

  2. Progress of tendering out Hongkong and Yaumati Ferry Co Ltd's franchised services (including the mechanism in approving future ferry fare increase proposals); and

  3. Control on the use of mobile phone while driving.
8. Members agreed that the following items be included on the list of outstanding items for discussion:
  1. Review on the legislation against careless and reckless driving including the proposed dangerous driving; and

  2. Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Corporation's proposal for the implementation of the MTR Tseung Kwan O Extension.
IV Kowloon - Canton Railway (KCR) Corporation's proposal for the implementation of the Ma On Shan to Tai Wai Rail Link and KCR Extension from Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui
(LC Paper No. CB(1)339/98-99(03) - Information paper provided by the Administration)

9. At the Chairman's invitation, Mr James BLAKE, Mr K K LEE and Mr Samuel LAI of Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) briefed members on the KCRC's proposal for the implementation of the Ma On Shan to Tai Wai Rail Link (MOS Rail) and KCR Extension from Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui. They highlighted the following salient points:

  1. The MOS Rail was designed for the maximum forecast passenger flows through the interchange with East Rail at Tai Wai Station. On the basis of a population assumption between 700,000 to 800,000 along the MOS Rail area, a daily patronage of 290,000 to 340,000 had been adopted in forecasting the MOS Rail passengers by the year 2011.

  2. In order to cope with the future demand, KCRC would introduce a series of improvement measures to increase the hourly capacity of the section of the East Rail from Tai Wai to Kowloon Tong to 95,000 by 2004, These included the provision of a cross-platform interchange between the MOS Rail and the East Rail systems at Tai Wai, and extra southbound trains from Fo Tan to facilitate passenger flow.

  3. For the purpose of planning, the fare structure was based on the distance travelled and the fare level of MTR. The exact fares would be drawn up nearer the time of opening, having regard to a number of factors including affordability to the public and competition from other transport modes.

  4. The MOS Rail was considered financially viable after taking all relevant factors including the projected passenger flow and competition from buses and other transport modes into consideration. KCRC was not under any pressure from the Government for the proposed construction of the MOS Rail and the proposed timing was considered appropriate, having regard to the transport needs of residents in the areas.

  5. The detailed design of the MOS Rail would be completed by early 2000 to enable construction to commence in 2000. The project would be completed in mid 2004.
10. Whilst supporting the provision of a rail link to serve the Ma On Shan areas, some members expressed grave concern about the design of the railway. They opined that the MOS Rail should be extended to the urban area instead of stopping at Tai Wai. Mr LAU Kong-wah pointed out that the present design was unattractive to the travelling public and was not cost effective at all. He cited a number of examples as contained in his submission tabled at the meeting to explain the travelling patterns of the public along the catchment areas of the MOS Rail and opined that passengers would not take the MOS Rail if it was not extended to the urban areas, having regard to the relative advantages of different transport modes in terms of journey time and fare.

(Post meeting note : The written submission from Mr LAU was circulated to other members after the meeting vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 370/98-99(03).

11. Mr CHENG Kar-foo echoed the view of Mr LAU and said that according to a survey conducted by the Democratic Party, 60% of the respondents indicated that they would not take the MOS Rail if it was not extended to the urban area. He also pointed out the inconvenience of interchanging with the East Rail at Tai Wai and the possible overloading of the section of East Rail between Tai Wai and Kowloon Tong. He expressed worries about possible financial loss in operating the MOS Rail and the resulting impact on the fares of the East Rail.

(Post meeting note : The written submission from Mr CHENG was circulated to other members after the meeting vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 370/98-99(04).

12. S for T replied that while the Administration accepted in principle the need to consider extending the MOS Rail from Tai Wai to the urban areas eventually, they had not yet identified the most appropriate alignment and neither had they conducted the feasibility study of this link and examined its financial viability, both of which would take a longer time to complete. The proposal to include an extension to the urban areas as part of the MOS Rail scheme would hence delay the delivery of the project. Given that the current population forecast had clearly pointed to the need for a rail link to meet the demand of the travelling public, a two-stage development approach had been adopted for the MOS Rail, viz completing the MOS Rail by 2004 as the first stage, and leaving the extension to urban Kowloon as the second stage to a later date.

13. S for T further said that the East Rail had sufficient capacity to meet passenger demand in the next ten years or so and there was no immediate need for building a rail extension from Tai Wai to urban Kowloon. Initial assessment under the Second Railway Development Study (RDS-2) showed that with the signalling improvement and upgrading of rolling stock being implemented for East Rail to enhance its carrying capacity, the East Rail would be able to handle the additional passenger loads from the MOS Rail until around 2011. The Administration would examine the priority of implementing a second connection from the MOS rail to the urban area in the context of the RDS-2. The extension might be from Tai Wai eastward to Diamond Hill or westward to join the West Rail.

14. The Government Engineer / Railway Development (GE/RD) added that in accordance with an internal analysis, passengers taking MOS rail would be required to pay a little bit more in return for a faster journey. Whilst the choice of a passenger would depend on his own preference, the provision of the MOS Rail would provide an additional choice for passengers. As requested by Mr LAU Kong-wah, he undertook to provide further information on comparison of fares and travelling time of the MOS Rail and other transport services. Admin

(Post meeting note: The requested information was circulated to members vide LC Paper No. CB(1) 470/98-99 dated 11 November 1998).

15. Some members expressed concern about the anticipated boarding difficulties at the MTR Kowloon Tong and Tsim Sha Tsui stations when the MOS Rail was in operation, particularly, when these stations were already operating at capacity during peak hours. In response, S for T advised that the MTR Tung Chung Line would help relieve the congestion along the MTR Nathan Road corridor when the travelling public was more accustomed to using its services. As such, he was confident that the situation in Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station would be acceptable. In the longer term, RDS-2 would examine the need for a fourth cross-harbour rail link. GE/RD added that with the Tsim Sha Tsui Extension, East Rail and MOS Rail passengers could change to the MTR at Kowloon Tong, or stay on the KCR to reach Tsim Sha Tsui or to change to the MTR at Tsim Sha Tsui to cross the harbour. Whilst the interchange requirement would depend on the origin and destination of a passenger, the Tsim Sha Tsui Extension would provide an additional interchange for passengers between the KCR and the MTR.

16. On the suggestion to extend the MOS Rail to urban Kowloon by using the existing track of the East Rail, Mr K K LEE advised that whilst the proposal might be technically feasible, it would severely affect the overall throughput of the East Rail. He advised that the signalling system of the East Rail was designed to accommodate a maximum of 24 trains per hour in one direction. Given the signalling constraint on the number of trains each hour, and in considering the train configuration of the MOS Rail which would be using four-car or six-car trains instead of the full 12-car trains as in the case of the East Rail, the overall carrying capacity of the latter would be jeopardised if the said proposal was adopted.

17. Noting the reply of the KCRC, Mr LAU Kong-wah suggested that as a contingent measure, KCRC should explore the feasibility of upgrading the signalling system of the East Rail so as to allow the shared use of the rail tracks between the MOS and East Rail systems from Tai Wai to Tsim Sha Tsui East with a view to improving the viability of the MOS Rail, if necessary. Mr K K LEE noted Mr LAU's suggestion and said that KCRC would consider the proposal.

18. Dr Raymond HO Chung-tai opined that the development of rail lines should be considered as an integrated network and different alignments for future extension should be identified earlier so as to facilitate the planning and design of interchange.

19. Mr Andrew WONG expressed concern about the possible cancellation of transport services after the operation of the MOS rail. S for T advised that the Administration would conduct a review on the possible restructuring of bus network in the areas nearer the time of the opening of the MOS rail. The review would cover franchised bus, minibus and free shuttle bus services. The Chairman suggested Mr WONG to put forward concrete proposal to the Administration for follow-up.

20. On the request to speed up the delivery of the MTR East Kowloon Line, S for T said that the Government was committed to developing further railway links in the territory. In the next five years, more than $120 billion would be spent on five railway projects. However, given the resources constraint, the Administration needed to set priorities in implementing the various proposals, having regard to the forecast population growth and actual need in the areas concerned.

21. In concluding the discussion, the Chairman requested the Administration to identify the most appropriate alignment for extending the MOS Rail from Tai Wai to the urban areas under RDS-2.

V Progress Report on Follow Up Actions on Parking Demand and Freight Transport Studies
(LC Paper No. CB(1)339/98-99(04) - Information paper provided by the Administration)

22. Noting from the information paper that the supply of parking spaces for private car was forecast to increase significantly by 2001 as a result of the rapid expansion of residential flats, some members pointed out such a conclusion might be misleading as many of the redevelopment projects as contained in the paper were yet to be finalized. Furthermore, some of the recommendations of the Parking Demand Study and the Freight Transport Study as contained in Annex A of the paper might not be put into effect due to objections from the affected parties or other reasons. They asked if the Administration would introduce other measures to increase the supply of parking spaces. The Deputy Commissioner for Transport (DC for T) confirmed that some projects to increase parking spaces were at the planning stage and the Transport Department (TD) was working closely with the Planning Department and the Lands Department in finding suitable sites and in working out other planning details. C for T added that an inter-departmental committee was closely monitoring the forecast supply and demand in vehicle parking spaces and would make recommendation on remedial actions if there was a forecast shortfall in parking spaces. She, however, pointed out that although the overall provision of parking spaces on a territory-wide basis would be adequate, there would still be shortage of parking spaces in particular districts. TD would continue to deal with these localized problems.

23. In connection with the project of the KCR Extension to Tsim Sha Tsui, Dr Raymond HO requested the Administration to examine whether there was a need to demolish and redevelop the Middle Road Car Park so as to facilitate the provision of a pedestrian subway linking the KCR and MTR stations in Tsim Sha Tsui to facilitate passenger interchange between the two systems. He also urged the Administration to speed up the provision of multi-storey car parks in Tsim Sha Tsui to relieve congestion in the area. DC for T noted the member's suggestion.

24. Regarding the enforcement against illegal parking, Mr CHENG Kar-foo opined that in view of the shortage of overnight parking spaces for heavy goods vehicles, the Administration should exercise discretion in enforcing the legislation on illegal parking. In response, C for T advised that TD was aware that certain areas were in short supply of parking space for heavy goods vehicles, TD would arrange meetings between the Police and the relevant drivers' associations to discuss parking problems in those particular areas. They would also examine with the relevant Bureaux and departments with a view to providing more parking spaces under short term tenancy agreement. Regarding the enforcement actions taken by the Police, she said that there was a need for the Police to carry out the necessary enforcement so as to prevent traffic obstruction.

25. As to why there was a decrease in demand for parking spaces for heavy goods vehicles, C for T advised that the reduced demand was due to the weakening economy and the fact that an increasing number of goods vehicles, particularly container trucks, were parked overnight in the Mainland.

26. Mr Tam Yiu-chung enquired whether the Administration was prepared to use public funds to finance the construction of multi-storey car parks in case the Administration's land sales programme was not resumed in 1999. S for T advised that the Administration would consider using its own resources to fund the project if there was demand for parking spaces in a particular district and the private sector was not interested in the relevant development project.

27. The Chairman opined that the provision of parking spaces by means of short term tenancy agreements would not be a long term solution and urged the Administration to review the matter. On the provision of multi-storey car parks for container trucks, C for T advised that development costs for this specialized type of multi-storey car park were very high. TD had discussions with relevant parties and they would prefer the continuation of the present arrangement of providing temporary parking spaces in areas where there were shortage of parking spaces under short term tenancy agreements.

28. Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee opined that in view of the shortage of parking spaces in most shopping districts, the Administration should consider the parking policy as adopted in other overseas countries whereby a time limit for short term parking would be imposed which was not subject to extension. This would improve the availability of parking spaces in those districts. C for T cautioned that the proposed measure would involve substantial manpower resources for enforcement. However, she undertook to consider the proposal in details.C for T

29. In response to Mr LEE Kai-ming's request, DC for T agreed to provide information on the supply and demand of parking spaces for tourist coaches and container trucks for members' information.

(Post-meeting note: The requisite information provided by the Administration after the meeting has been circulated to members vide LC Paper No. CB(1)531/98-99.)

30. As requested by the Chairman, C for T agreed to provide updated progress report on the implementation of recommendations of the Parking Demand Study and Freight Transport Study on an annual basis. C for T

VI Third Comprehensive Transport Study
(LC Paper No. CB(1)339/98-99(05) - Information paper provided by the Administration)

31. As regards progress of the Third Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS-3) , C for T advised that the main transport model analyses were being conducted and by early 1999 the broad transport requirements for the future years would be established.

32. Replying to the Chairman's question on whether a white paper would be issued if there were any new transport policies arising from the CTS-3, the Deputy Secretary for Transport (Planning and Management) (DS for T/PM) said that the Administration had yet to see the findings of CTS-3 and to assess the impact of the findings on existing policy. He confirmed however that findings of CTS-3 would be announced followed by public consultation on any proposed major policy change.

33. Noting that the KCRC and the MTRC were operating in different railway systems, and even within KCRC, the East Rail system was incompatible with the Light Rail Transit system, Mr LEE Wing-tat said that the incompatibility of different systems had restricted the interconnection of different rail lines and hindered the provision of express services between stations in different systems. He urged the Administration to take this into account in developing future rail projects. DS for T/PM said that whilst the Administration realized the advantage of compatible railway systems, there would be a limit to the extent of systems' compatibility because different railway systems would have different system requirements to suit the need of the passengers they served. Moreover, railway systems constructed in different times would also differ due to changes in technological know-how. He agreed that the Administration should try to ensure that future railway systems should be compatible as far as possible.

34. On the progress of the feasibility study on Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system, C for T advised that field trials of the preferred technology options including the dedicated short range communication system and vehicle positioning system were being arranged. She also informed members that the Administration would further consider the policy aspects of the ERP system if it was considered technically feasible to introduce ERP in Hong Kong.

VII Any other business

35. The Chairman reminded members that a joint meeting with the Panel on Environmental Affairs would be held on Friday, 6 November 1998 to meet with deputations and the Administration regarding "A proposal to introduce liquefied petroleum gas taxis".

36. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 12:50 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
11 December 1998