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Press Releases and Statements

Electronic Road Pricing is not an alternative to Central-Wanchai Bypass

In response to press enquiries on the statement on Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) issued by "Clear the Air" which was distributed by the Protection of the Harbour Society held earlier today (March 26), a spokesman for the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau said:

"ERP and the Central-Wanchai Bypass (CWB) serve entirely different purposes. The former tackles congestion of a specific area through charging while the CWB is a strategic trunk road which provides an alternative route for east-west traffic not destined for the Central Business District (CBD). The bypass is urgently needed to relieve congestion along the Connaught Road Central/Harcourt Road/Gloucester Road Corridor. ERP is no substitute for the CWB.

ERP can only be contemplated for the CBD when the CWB is in place. Our study on ERP in 2001 and overseas experience reaffirmed the importance of an alternative route as an integral part of any ERP scheme. Without a bypass, all motorists travelling on the east-west route would be forced to pay even though they do not want to go into the CBD. We do not believe that this is an equitable way of tackling congestion in the CBD nor do we consider this to be acceptable to the community at large.

In our present case, we are looking for measures which can address an exceedance of road capacity by 30%. But overseas experience shows that the effect of ERP could be limited. In London and Singapore where there are already alternative routes for users, the charging scheme has reduced the number of vehicles entering the charging zone by only 14% to 16%. The figure in London is in fact dropping. With no alternative route available in the Hong Kong case, we can expect the effect of ERP on relieving congestion along the critical corridor to be even more limited.

The CWB provides the only viable option. The economic benefits to be brought about by the CWB is significant. In the first year alone, the cost of the time saved is estimated to be $2.2 billion. Over its 40-year life span, the net benefit will accrue to a significant sum of $122 billion. The need for the project is clear and present. We need to get on with the project."

Ends/Friday, March 26, 2004