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LCQ5: Resolving congestion problem of Tseung Kwan O Tunnel
     Following is a question by the Hon Stanley Li and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Frank Chan Fan, in the Legislative Council today (June 15):


     There are views pointing out that the Cross Bay Link, Tseung Kwan O (CBL, TKO) and the Tseung Kwan O - Lam Tin Tunnel (TKO-LTT), which are under construction, are the transport lifeline of Tseung Kwan O in the future, and can resolve the long-standing problem of serious traffic congestion in the Tseung Kwan O Tunnel (TKOT). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the current works progress of the two aforesaid projects meets with the expectations (including which works procedures have not yet been completed), and when they are expected to be officially commissioned;

(2) as the Government indicated earlier on in reply to my question raised in respect of the Estimates of Expenditure 2022-2023 that if the toll waiver for the TKOT was implemented before the commissioning of the TKO-LTT, it would induce additional traffic demand and result in heavier traffic flow for the TKOT, what actual data or statistics the Government has, and whether it has examined the time spent by vehicles using the TKOT due to their having to stop and pay toll; and

(3) whether it has formulated plans to arrange, upon the official commissioning of the CBL, TKO and the TKO-LTT, to divert some of the public transport routes running through the TKOT to these new facilities; if so, of the details; if not, whether it will immediately formulate the plans and submit them to this Council for consideration?



     In order to provide a more convenient road access between Tseung Kwan O and Kwun Tong/the Eastern Harbour Crossing, as well as to facilitate smoother traffic in the Tseung Kwan O district, the Government is taking forward at full steam the construction of the Tseung Kwan O - Lam Tin Tunnel (TKO-LTT) and the Cross Bay Link, Tseung Kwan O (CBL) which connects to the eastern end of the TKO-LTT. Upon their commissioning, the journey time between Tseung Kwan O and Kowloon East during peak hours will be reduced by about 20 minutes. On the other hand, as announced in the 2019 Policy Address, where traffic conditions permit, the Government will seek to reduce the cost of using government tolled tunnels and Control Areas incurred by the public, public transport operators and the transport trades. Therefore, the Government will waive the toll for the Tseung Kwan O Tunnel (TKOT) upon the commissioning of the TKO-LTT, when the traffic to and from Tseung Kwan O can be diverted.

     After consultation with the Civil Engineering and Development Department and Transport Department (TD), my consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Stanley Li is as follows:

(1) At present, installation of all major structural components of the CBL has been completed. For the TKO-LTT, the structural works of the administration building, the ventilation buildings, the tunnels and various viaducts have been substantially completed. The project team is pressing ahead with the associated ensuing works, including electrical and mechanical equipment, ventilation and fire services facilities, connecting roads, noise barriers, traffic control and surveillance system and utilities etc, with a view to commissioning the two projects in tandem this year.

(2) The congestion of the TKOT is mainly due to the traffic flow exceeding its design capacity. According to the traffic figures in 2021, during the morning and evening peak hours on weekdays, the number of vehicles using the tunnel exceeded its design capacity by 40-50 per cent. Some pictures illustrating the congestion of the tunnel are at Annex. Taking the weekday morning peak hour condition of the Kowloon-bound traffic of the TKOT as an example, traffic congestion is observed from time to time at the tunnel portal (Tseung Kwan O Entrance) even when there is no tolling facility (see Exhibit 1 of Annex). The traffic queue can extend to some 1.6 km from the tunnel portal to Wan Po Road near the Hong Kong Velodrome, affecting the traffic of the local roads; nevertheless, the traffic between the tunnel portal (Kowloon Exit) and the toll plaza is smooth (see Exhibit 2). As for the weekday evening peak hour condition of the Tseung Kwan O-bound traffic, there is traffic congestion between the toll plaza and the tunnel portal, and some of the traffic queues tail back to beyond the tolling facility (see Exhibit 3 and 4). While some argue that stopping to pay toll is a contributor to the congestion of the TKOT, according to the explanation of the current situation illustrated in the pictures, the congestion of the TKOT mainly stems from the number of vehicles using the tunnel exceeding the capacity of the tunnel tube during peak hours. At present, it takes a few seconds for a vehicle to make toll payment using cash or "stop-and-go" e-payment means at the TKOT; hence, stopping to pay toll is not the root cause of traffic congestion during peak hours.

     If the toll of the TKOT is waived ahead of the commissioning of the TKO-LTT, it will induce additional traffic demand, aggravating the current traffic situation of the TKOT. It is anticipated that the traffic queues will extend rather than be shortened, further affecting the local roads. Therefore, from the traffic management perspective, it is a more prudent arrangement to waive the toll of the TKOT upon the commissioning of the TKO-LTT. 

(3) To tie in with the upcoming commissioning of the TKO-LTT, the TD is exploring ways to enhance the franchised bus service network in the vicinity to provide the public with more convenient and efficient options of public transport services. For example, after consulting relevant District Councils (DCs), the TD will proceed to introduce a new bus route plying between Hong Sing Garden in Tseung Kwan O and Tai Po Industrial Estate via the TKO-LTT. Besides, the TD is identifying more new bus routes via the TKO-LTT and will consult relevant DCs as appropriate before implementation.

     After the commissioning of the TKO-LTT, the TD will explore the feasibility of diverting some of the existing bus routes to route through the TKO-LTT upon further reviewing the actual traffic conditions of the Tseung Kwan O district and the two tunnels, the operation of relevant bus routes, the utilisation of TKOT Bus-Bus Interchange and other relevant factors. When considering suitable proposals, the TD will examine if the diversion of individual bus routes can save the travelling time of passengers as well as other impacts to them, and take into account the views of the local community.

     Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:18
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