Government's transport infrastructure programme is moving full steam ahead despite the present economic downturn, the Secretary for Transport, Mr Nicholas Ng said today (October 10) when he unveiled his 2001 Policy Objective Booklet. "The programme is important for the long term prosperity of Hong Kong," Mr Ng explained.
"The total investment on transport infrastructure will exceed $300 billion. It will also create a large number of job opportunities, of which over 40,000 will arise in the next five years."
"Our action agenda encompasses an ambitious building programme for the railway, the most efficient and environmentally friendly mass carrier. We will work towards the completion of six rail projects by 2007, expanding the existing network by 40 per cent to over 200 kilometres," Mr Ng added.
The Government's plan will bring rail service to Tseung Kwan O next year, to Yuen Long/Tuen Mun in 2003 and to Ma On Shan in 2004. The timely completion of the Penny's Bay Rail Link in 2005 will bring visitors to the Hong Kong Disneyland, and the Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line to be completed by 2007 will make possible a new rail passenger boundary crossing.
"We also have plans to build another six railways by about 2016 which will expand the network to 250 kilometres, involving a total investment of another $100 billion," Mr Ng said. "We are assessing respective proposals from the two Railway Corporations on the Shatin to Central Link, Island Line Extensions and Kowloon Southern Link."
Road development is set to complement the railway network both for freight transport and in areas where a railway service is not available.
"Our road development programme has taken into account the changes in planning and land use parameters, and the overall sustainability of our transport network. In the next 10 years, we will see the construction and improvement of over 100 kilometres of strategic roads, including Route 9 linking Tsing Yi and Shatin, Route 10 linking Tuen Mun and North Lantau, the Shenzhen Western Corridor and Deep Bay Link," Mr Ng said. The programme will involve a total investment of more than $100 billion.
Cross Boundary Traffic
Behind the Government's transport infrastructure blueprint is the Government's recognition of the growing integration between the economy of Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta.
"Our development plan is set to help Hong Kong capitalize on the immense business opportunities in the Mainland and to enable it to benefit from and contribute to the synergy of the region," Mr Ng emphasised.
"In the past five years, cross boundary passenger flow has more than doubled and vehicular flow increased by one third. The Shenzhen Western Corridor and the Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Railway Spur Line will double the passenger and vehicular handling capacity of our existing land crossing points."
Before the completion of the crossing points, the Government will smooth out the passenger flow at Lo Wu, improve the road network leading to Lok Ma Chau and enhance the shuttle bus service there as necessary.
Public Transport Services and Transport Management
The Government will continue its effort to promote public transport services as the first choice of commuters, and to enhance road use efficiency through better transport management.
"The average daily public transport patronage stands as high as 90 per cent of total passenger trips, a record that we strive to maintain by sustained improvement to the quality and coordination of public transport services," Mr Ng explained. "We are also encouraged by the widespread public support for our pedestrian schemes, and will continue our effort to enhance pedestrian environment."
On traffic management, the Government is working to provide motorists and public transport passengers with comprehensive and up-to-date information on the traffic situation to allow all road-users to make informed choices on the most efficient routes. "We will seek to maximize road use efficiency with the use of advanced technology. We are pressing ahead with a comprehensive Intelligent Transport System to this end," Mr Ng added.
End/Wednesday, October 10, 2001