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LCQ6: Transport and development of Tung Chung

     Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kong-wah and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (May 16):


     Some residents of Tung Chung have indicated that after years of development of a new town in North Lantau which centres around Tung Chung, the population there has increased annually, and the residents have been facing problems such as high travelling expenses, high prices of goods and high pressure on their livelihood since they moved into the district, and the situation has not improved over the years.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that the local infrastructure projects of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will soon commence, how the planning of the airport island in Chek Lap Kok will dovetail with the relevant development so as to achieve the effect of a "bridgehead economy"; of the latest progress of the whole project; whether more commercial and community facilities (e.g. parks, shopping malls and hotels, etc.) in Tung Chung are planned so as to attract tourists to the district for consumption, create job opportunities and promote the development of service industries in the district;

(b) given that the SkyPier at the Hong Kong International Airport is now open for use only by transit passengers and provides them with air-to-sea / sea-to-air speedy ferry services to and from the Pearl River Delta region and Macao, whether the authorities will consider afresh making the services at the SkyPier available to Hong Kong residents for direct departure from and arrival at the territory so as to facilitate the flow of people and traffic within the district, stimulate tourism development, and bring convenience to Tung Chung residents; and

(c) given that some Tung Chung residents have indicated that as they rely mainly on the MTR for travelling to other districts but the fare is expensive, and monthly ticket concessions are not offered for the Tung Chung line and, in addition, the MTR will soon increase its fares, the burden on Tung Chung residents, which is already very heavy, will definitely increase further, whether the authorities will request the MTR to offer monthly ticket concessions to Tung Chung residents so as to alleviate the pressure on their livelihood?



(a) When we considered the landing points and the location of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF), economic benefits were one of the important considerations.  

     After considering various related factors, the HKBCF will be located at the northeast of the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).  The HKBCF is located at an accessible and favourable geographical location and is in the vicinity of HKIA. It will accommodate extensively-connected road sections and link roads for traffic to and from Tuen Mun and North Lantau.  Therefore, apart from providing immigration, customs and public transport interchanging facilities, the HKBCF will become a strategic multi-modal transportation hub on the west of Hong Kong.  Its traffic and economic benefits will radiate to nearby areas and will significantly boost the economic development capability of these areas.  

     To give full play to the benefit of the HZMB and HKBCF in facilitating the bridgehead economy in the nearby areas, we plan to provide convenient transport services between the HKBCF and HKIA, Tung Chung, other parts of the Lantau Island and Tuen Mun.  These services will encourage travellers coming to Hong Kong through the HZMB to make use of the commercial facilities in these locations (for example, the Asia World-Expo, hotels in the vicinity, shopping malls in Tung Chung and tourist attractions on the Lantau Island etc.) in order to provide business opportunities to these areas.  

     On the other hand, the Airport Authority (AA) is conducting a consultancy study on how to further drive commercial development at the airport.  The study also assesses the demand and supply of ancillary facilities at and nearby the airport to tie in with the long-term development needs of the airport and facilitate the bridgehead economy.

     As regards the remaining development of Tung Chung, the Civil Engineering and Development Department and the Planning Department commenced a "Planning and Engineering Study on the Remaining Development in Tung Chung" ("the Study") early this year to review the planning and development of the remaining area in Tung Chung.  The Study will focus on the provision of more land to meet housing needs.  It will also explore possible sites for supporting facilities including commercial, retail and services ones.  Relevant planning considerations such as environmental protection, transport and housing demands will be taken into account with a view to putting forward the most appropriate development proposal.  During the formulation of the development options, the Government will give due regard to the development of adjacent areas (including HZMB and HKIA) and the economic synergies brought about by the improvement of the entire road network connecting North Lantau.

     Meanwhile, in planning and developing Tung Chung New Town, the Government aims to meet the need of Tung Chung residents for community facilities.  Adequate land has been reserved for different types of commercial and community facilities, including schools, medical and health facilities, police station, fire station, post office, library, community and recreational facilities as well as open spaces, in accordance with the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines.  Having regard to population growth and land use planning, relevant policy bureaux and departments would co-ordinate the planning and implementation of the various community facilities.  They would take forward individual developments as far as practicable to cope with the population growth and distribution.

(b) At present, cross-boundary ferry services are mainly provided at the two cross-boundary ferry terminals (CBFTs) managed by the Government (i.e. Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal and the China Ferry Terminal). The maximum daily processing capacities of the two CBFTs is 290,000.  In 2011, the total peak daily patronage for these two terminals is only 133,000, accounting for about 46% of the total processing capacities of the CBFTs.  We expect that the demand for cross-boundary ferry services would continue to increase steadily before the commissioning of the HZMB in 2016 and the CBFTs managed by the Government would have sufficient capacity to meet the projected increase in patronage.  

     Apart from the two CBFTs managed by the Government, we rented part of the Tuen Mun ferry pier to a private organisation by way of a tenancy agreement for operation of cross-boundary ferry services in 2003.  At present, the Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal only provides cross-boundary ferry services between Hong Kong and Macao with a daily patronage of around 1,000.

     The main purpose of providing SkyPier service at HKIA is to provide speedy ferry services for air transit passengers travelling to and from the Pearl River Delta (PRD) and Macao.  

     The existing SkyPier is located within the Airport Restricted Area where customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) facilities are not provided.  If the SkyPier is to open for use by non-transit passengers, it would require expansion to fit in the necessary facilities and increase the handling capacity of the pier.  AA has looked into this and concluded that the provision of the CIQ facilities would not increase the usage of the SkyPier services by transit passengers.  In addition, the relevant works would incur substantial capital costs and manpower and take two to three years to design and build.  AA therefore has no plan to pursue the proposal.  

     In fact, the Government has been enhancing the transport connectivity between Hong Kong and the PRD region through different strategies.  Upon the completion of the HZMB, which is being constructed, in 2016, the Western PRD will fall within a 3-hour-commuting radius from Hong Kong.  It would significantly reduce transportation costs and time for travellers and goods on the road, enabling Hong Kong to fully develop its key role as a regional trade and logistics hub.  It is envisaged that HZMB will also benefit various sectors in Hong Kong, such as tourism, finance and commerce.  Visitors travelling through the HZMB can conveniently reach the nearby facilities at the airport island as well as tourist attractions in Lantau and Tung Chung, enhancing the business opportunities of the tourism and convention and exhibition industries.  Residents in Lantau and Tung Chung could also travel to and from the PRD conveniently.

     In view of the aforesaid considerations, in particular that the HZMB will provide another option for cross-boundary travellers between Hong Kong and Macao, and between Hong Kong and cities on the western side of the Pearl River, we consider that it is more prudent to review the need for making available the SkyPier to for immigration clearance after the commissioning of the HZMB.  However, in case there is private organisation interested in operating cross-boundary ferry service at HKIA, based on the Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal model, for the provision of direct immigration clearance, we could study the feasibility of the proposal.

(c) The relatively high inflation rate in Hong Kong at the moment has resulted in a heavy financial burden on the local community.  The Government understands that members of the public are concerned that the increase of travelling expenses would aggravate their burden of living, particularly to those living in remote districts and frequent commuters of the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL).

     As I have emphasised at various occasions earlier, the Government shares the same concern and expectation of the society.  We are of the view that the MTRCL should, apart from considering its commercial operations, give due regard to its corporate social responsibility.  While providing safe and efficient railway services, the MTRCL should also strive to help the public reduce fare expenses.  In this regard, the Government has had rounds of discussion with MTRCL on how to deal with this year's fare adjustment in an appropriate manner.

     I have urged the MTRCL to reward the additional revenue arising from the fare adjustment to passengers through various effective means, so as to substantively address the needs of various groups of passengers and alleviate their burden of travelling expenses.

     Public's views and requests on fare concessions have been well-received by the MTRCL.  As far as I know, the MTRCL is actively working on various concession and reward proposals, with a view to making an announcement by the end of May 2012.

Ends/Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:16


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