Following is the opening remarks by Secretary for Transport, Mr Nicholas Ng, at the press conference today (Monday) :
Thank you for coming to this press conference. Today I will brief you on two topics. First, I will account for the progress we have made in the area of transport in the past year. Then I will brief you on the new transport strategy, which was formulated based on the results of the Third Comprehensive Transport Study. The Strategy will provide guidance to our next stage of transport development.
In the past year, we have been working on 67 pledges (altogether there are 89 items) which we committed to implement in 1998 and before. They fall under the programme areas of transport planning, building of roads/railways, public transport services and traffic management. I am glad to report that we have fulfilled 37 of the pledges. We are on schedule with 46 items. The implementation programme for three items are under review (examples include the Central Kowloon Route and Route 10 (section between Green Island and North Lantau), the work programmes of which are subject to revision pending transport and land use planning).
There are only three items which are behind schedule. They are all road projects (improvements works to Salisbury Road, Tuen Mun Road and Castle Peak Road). The delay is mainly due to the revision in project programming and technical difficulties. We will closely monitor the progress of these projects to ensure their timely completion. Another behind-schedule item reported in the Booklet concerns the replacement of all mechanical parking meters with electronic ones (page 36 of Chinese version and page 33 of the English version). I am happy to report that all the replacement work has been completed recently.
The highlights of our achievements for the past year are as follows:
* The completion of the Third Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS-3);
* The implementation of West Rail (Phase I) and the Tseung Kwan O MTR Extension;
* The gazettal of the Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line;
* The completion of the Duplicate Tsing Yi Bridge, the Hunghom Bypass and the Princess Margaret Road Link;
* The enactment of legislation to tighten the control on drink driving;
* The transfer of ownership of the Cross Harbour Tunnel to the Government and the contracting out of the management of the tunnel;
* The termination of the franchise of the Hong Kong and Yaumati Ferry Company and the open tender of the ferry routes concerned.
Before I proceed to explain to you our transport strategy for the future, let us first take a look at the present transport situation. Firstly, the average travelling speed of our vehicles is about 30 km per hour and we look forward to an improved speed of 36 - 40 km in the year 2016. Secondly, there has been a steady increase in the overall number of passenger journeys made on public transport, recording an average annual growth rate of 1 per cent for the past ten years. The number of passenger journeys at present was 11 million passenger trips per day. Thirdly, our private vehicle ownership rate is amongst the lowest in the world, which is 48 for every 1 000 people and there has been a downward trend in recent years. Fourthly, the existing railway network will be expanded from the present 143 km to 200 km over the next five years, i.e. an increase of about 40 per cent.
By that time, over 70 per cent of our population will be living in the vicinity of railway corridors. At present, 55 per cent of our population lived in the vicinity of the railway. In terms of patronage, it is expected that 40 per cent - 50 per cent of all public transport journeys will be made on the railway system by 2016, as compared to the level of 33 per cent in the year 1997.
As for cross-boundary traffic, there has been a significant increase in recent years as the economic and social ties between Hong Kong and the Mainland have become closer. The daily number of vehicles travelling across the boundary has increased from 18 000 in 1992 to the present 30 000, i.e. an average annual increase of 9.7 per cent. The Lo Wu crossing is handling 210,000 passengers each day. Its handling capacity has been stretched to over 300,000 during holidays. To cope with the increasing demand, we are working on both short term and long term measures.
As a short-term measure, we will install 10 additional pairs of kiosks at Lok Ma Chau by the end of 1999 to increase the handling capacity of the crossing. In the longer term, we need to provide new boundary crossings. On road crossings, we are now discussing with Mainland authorities the possibility of building the Shenzhen Western Corridor in 2004-2005. On rail crossings, when the Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line is completed, it will be connected to the Shenzhen Metro and it will bring much convenience to passengers crossing the boundary. This will turn a new page for cross-boundary rail passenger service.
In the year to come, we will continue to make improvements in the areas of transport infrastructure and planning, public transport services and traffic management. We hope that our transport system will stand ready to support the economic recovery of Hong Kong.
I will now show you a short presentation on our Transport Strategy and highlight my Bureau's work programme for the coming year.
End/Monday, October 11, 1999