LCQ17: Coping with flow of inbound and outbound passengers during long holidays
It has been reported that after the resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland, the numbers of inbound and outbound passengers at a number of land boundary control points (BCPs) have surged, and especially during long holidays, there have been queues of people waiting at various BCPs and waiting for public transport services which take members of the public to and from BCPs. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective percentages of the numbers of traditional counters and the Automated Passenger Clearance System (e-Channels) which were opened at each BCP in the total numbers of traditional counters and e-Channels at that BCP during the long holidays after the resumption of normal travel; whether the Government will extend the service hours of various BCPs as well as open more traditional counters and e-Channels during the upcoming Labour Day holiday of the Mainland (commonly known as "Labour Day Golden Week") and other long holidays to divert passenger flow; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) as some members of the tourism industry have relayed that there are currently only eight parking spaces for tourist coaches at the Heung Yuen Wai/Liantang Control Point and they cannot meet the demand of tour groups, of the current numbers of parking spaces for tourist coaches at various land BCPs, and whether the Government will review and increase the numbers of parking spaces for tourist coaches at various land BCPs (especially at the Heung Yuen Wai/Liantang Control Point); if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) as there are views pointing out that during long holidays, there is a serious shortage of public transport services which take members of the public to and from various BCPs (including cross-boundary coaches and shuttle buses travelling to and from Macao), whether the Government will request various operators of public transport services to double their service frequencies during the Labour Day Golden Week and other long holidays to divert passengers; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(4) as there are views pointing out that with most of the days in the Labour Day Golden Week being not public holidays in Hong Kong, the return journey time of Mainland visitors overlaps with the time when members of the public in Hong Kong get off work, coupled with the reduced carrying capacity of trains running on the MTR East Rail Line (ERL) after their replacement with 9-car trains, making it difficult for members of the public and visitors to board trains at en route stations, whether the Government has plans to request the MTR Corporation Limited to maintain the most frequent train service of ERL (i.e. about one train every two to three minutes) and arrange for "empty trains" to carry passengers at Mong Kok East Station or Tai Po Market Station during daytime and the time of getting off work during the Labour Day Golden Week, so that passengers waiting for trains at Sha Tin Station and Tai Po Market Station can board trains within a reasonable time; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
With the full resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland, cross-boundary traffic has resumed. The number of passengers and traffic flow between the two places has increased, and the demand for services at the boundary control points has also grown in tandem. The Government has been closely monitoring the flow of passengers and vehicles at various control points and making timely adjustments to the clearance and transport services, with a view to meeting the cross-boundary travel needs of inbound travellers and Hong Kong citizens.
In consultation with the Security Bureau, the Transport Department (TD) and the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL), the consolidated reply to the question is as follows:
(1) There are a total of 756 multi-purpose e-Channels and 764 conventional counters at all control points at present. To ensure smooth passenger flow at control points, the Immigration Department (ImmD) has been conducting real-time monitoring of the passenger flow at various control points, and will flexibly deploy manpower at each boundary control point according to the passenger flow and open more e-Channels and counters to facilitate passenger movement.
Passengers should take note of the opening hours at various control points before travelling. Among the control points, both Lok Ma Chau control point and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) Hong Kong Port are providing round-the-clock passenger clearance service.
To cope with the passenger flow between Hong Kong and the Mainland during the Labour Day Golden Week period, relevant government departments will strengthen manpower at various control points and co-ordinate cross-boundary and transport services during the Labour Day Golden Week period. The Inter-departmental Joint Command Centre set up by the ImmD, the Police, the Customs and Excise Department and other relevant departments will be activated during the Labour Day Golden Week period to monitor the situation at each land control point, as well as to maintain close liaison with Mainland counterparts and take appropriate contingency actions where necessary. We trust that passengers will be able to complete all clearance procedures within the opening hours of the control points.
(2) Currently, the HZMB Hong Kong Port and the Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point (HYW BCP) have eight and nine parking spaces available for local coaches' picking up/setting down respectively, which could be used for coaches' short-term parking for picking up of tourists. The TD has also reserved spaces near the HYW BCP for use as a temporary parking area for 30 coaches when necessary. With the increasing number of visitors to Hong Kong, the said spaces will help meet the demand for the operation of coaches. In addition, the TD has also reminded coach operators to wait until all tour group members are gathered as far as possible before entering the parking spaces to pick them up, so as to better utilise the parking spaces and speed up the vehicular flow. The police will also provide assistance in traffic dispersion onsite. As observed by the TD recently, these parking spaces are in general operating smoothly. As for control points at Shenzhen Bay, Lok Ma Chau and Man Kam To, local coaches are not permitted to operate there at present.
(3) The TD has all along been closely monitoring the trend of transport demand at various land-based BCPs, and adjusting the relevant public transport services to meet the travel needs of inbound and outbound citizens through various BCPs as appropriate. On one hand, the TD has been maintaining close liaison with the operators of public transport services and cross-boundary passenger transport services to get prepared for enhancing services during long holidays; on the other hand, the TD will disseminate the latest traffic information through various channels so that members of the public can plan their trips having regard to the actual traffic conditions.
As observed by the TD, the average patronage of franchised buses and cross-boundary coaches serving each land-based BCP during the latest Ching Ming Festival and Easter long holidays ranged from 30 per cent to 80 per cent at peak hours. Passengers' needs for public transport services were met in general. In view of the higher patronage at the HZMB Hong Kong Port, relevant public transport service operators have enhanced their services in a timely manner. Additional frequencies of shuttle buses plying between Hong Kong and Macao (i.e. Gold Bus) and cross-boundary coaches were arranged as far as practicable. The Gold Bus operator also deployed multiple buses to carry passengers in parallel during the busiest hours to divert passengers.
The TD has been reviewing with public transport service operators the operation of public transport services during the Ching Ming Festival and Easter long holidays with a view to ensuring that appropriate transport services will be provided to citizens for the upcoming Labour Day Golden Week.
(4) The East Rail Line service has largely restored to the pre-epidemic level following the resumption of train services to/from Lok Ma Chau Station and Lo Wu Station. The MTRCL has also strengthened train services between Sheung Shui Station and Admiralty Station to better serve the needs of cross-boundary and local passengers. As observed by the Government and the MTRCL, the overall operation of the East Rail Line has been smooth with sufficient capacity to meet the demands of both cross-boundary and local passengers since the resumption of normal travel with the Mainland.
The TD has asked the MTRCL to make appropriate train services arrangements in light of the passenger demand during holidays. The MTRCL will actively monitor the patronage and the travel patterns of passengers during the Labour Day Golden Week, and enhance train services based on actual circumstances to ease passenger flow. Besides, the MTRCL will deploy additional manpower at stations according to actual circumstances to help passengers and maintain station order.
Ends/Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:10
Issued at HKT 12:10