日日塞爆香港仔隧道 政府竟說未飽和

規劃署於2016年9月26日竟然表示,香港仔隧道未飽和!甚至要把利南道駕駛學院地皮,改劃為住宅地帶,興建約1400個單位。政府竟然表示,建1400個單位對交通影響不大!事件引起很多出入南區市民的質疑,難道香港特區政府竟然當市民是傻的嗎?一個長期塞車,甚至不斷塞到要間歇性封隧道,去疏導隧道內車龍的香港仔隧道,特區政府竟然可以得出「隧道未飽和」的結論?絕對是豈有此理。

規劃署於2016926日竟然表示,香港仔隧道未飽和!甚至要把利南道駕駛學院地皮,改劃為住宅地帶,興建約1400個單位。政府竟然表示,建1400個單位對交通影響不大!事件引起很多出入南區市民的質疑,難道香港特區政府竟然當市民是傻的嗎?一個長期塞車,甚至不斷塞到要間歇性封隧道,去疏導隧道內車龍的香港仔隧道,特區政府竟然可以得出「隧道未飽和」的結論?絕對是豈有此理。

的而且確,近年香港仔隧道本身汽車流量,並沒有明顯的增加,對比起過海隧道的擠塞,香港仔隧道單看流量,是反映不到問題的嚴重性;真正的問題,是連接香港仔隧道的道路塞車,而令車龍倒灌塞入香港仔隧道,包括最嚴重的舊隧塞車,在繁忙時間的車龍,必然會延續到香港仔隧道內,更令運輸署要在此實行罕見的「間歇性封閉」隧道的措施──即交通停頓全部車要停下來等候。

根據運輸署的資料,2015年香港仔隧道的北行線總共封閉了2660次,即包括公眾假期,平均每日要封7-8次隧道;扣除不擠塞的日子,即每日可達10數次以上,而每次單是「封隧道」的時間,都接近3-4分鐘,即繁忙日子每日有最少40分鐘至1小時,隧道的北行線是不能通行去疏導交通。這樣離譜的擠塞,特區政府的規劃署竟然可以得出「隧道未飽和」的結論──每日繁忙時間4-5小時有 1小時封隧道!說明這個政府的公信力之低,為欺騙市民之無恥,已經難以用語言去形容。

事實上特區政府不斷招搖撞騙,說電子道路可以解決塞車,這個謊言最容易拆穿之處,就是在於香港仔隧道──政府不斷在南區建屋,而新起的單位售價以千萬計,住得起的人又怎會買不起車?買得起車的又怎會負擔不起電子道路收費?就以香港仔隧道為例,無論是加十倍收費,還是令車輛改走其他同樣已經完全塞爆的道路,最終塞車不但不會改善,反而只會更嚴重──原因非常簡單,政府一面說太多車,一面卻瘋狂在這些已經嚴重塞車的地方,瘋狂建新住宅!

特區政府堅持不建第四條海隧,而紅隧用量每日達十多萬架次時,香港仔隧道將永遠受到紅隧塞車的影響。政府除了欺騙,就只有欺騙,從來沒有打算去解決任何問題,還要市民付出更多的金錢,去供養這些高官的薪金,以至官商勾結的顧問費,甚至奉養電子道路的承辦商,除了騙錢之外,永不做任何實事。

林忌

胡亂修路 直至永遠

香港的路面擠塞有週期,每年九月中秋至十月重陽,以及聖誕新年前後,永遠是全年最塞車的月份;從這個「塞車週期」,其實就可以發現了「繁忙時間」以外大半塞車的秘密--貨車落貨。

香港的路面擠塞有週期,每年九月中秋至十月重陽,以及聖誕新年前後,永遠是全年最塞車的月份;從這個「塞車週期」,其實就可以發現了「繁忙時間」以外大半塞車的秘密--貨車落貨。

特區政府一直都不去面對的問題,就是遇到大量貨車落貨時,政府是根本無法,亦沒有打算去處理的;貨車打了死火燈,然後送貨到鋪頭,執法人員往往網開一面,這本身是令人理解的;然而當類似的事情變成了慣例,霸佔了路面大半的停車線時,那麼道路在這種情況之下,又怎可能不塞車呢?

誠然除了貨車落貨之外,另一個同樣因為霸佔行車線,而令塞車問題更嚴重的,就是胡亂修路的問題,特別是高速公路的修路,以往在夜間緊急完成,如今卻愈來愈寬鬆,例如東區走廊的快線,竟然可以一封就封幾個月,市民對封了路,卻沒有人在封路工程處開工,已經習已為常--特區政府以不負責任的方式,容許工程進行而不監督工程進度,而這些地盤的開工費,往往與開工日子掛勾,因此霸佔路面時間愈長,其收費就愈貴,市民因此要承擔的塞車時數就愈長,這是極度不合情理的。

香港的修路工程極頻繁,有些路段修路的日子,幾乎可以比不修路的日子多;今年是為了水管修路,明年是為了電線修路,後年是為了寬頻線修路,然後終於可以停工一年半載,之後又重修一次水管了;這種荒謬的瘋狂修路,掘開了路面之後則任由工程丟空的方式,嚴重影響香港的交通順暢。

事實上特區政府應該做的,就是嚴格限制修路工程的進行,無論是因為要修理水管,以至修理寬頻,其修路工程絕對不應容許有人開了工,卻長期沒有人去開工;全香港的維修工程多如牛毛,於是所有工程公司的慣例,就是盡可能接最多的工作,同時把所有工作的進度拖慢,結果就是造成全香港的交通容量劇減,而令香港市民要蒙受更多不必要的塞車;這些當年倫敦市長約翰遜於第二任期,提出要進行全面監督,由市政府作一認證制度去處理的方法,在香港政界當然無法提出,甚至提出了亦無法執行。
比起德國對修路工程之嚴謹,要求修路公司必須重劃行車線,嚴格的路牌與行車線安全標準,香港則是依賴維修人員,胡亂在街邊放圍欄與「雪糕筒」,以至突出行車線的修路路牌,隨時會造成交通意外,在這方面華人社會的「差不多先生」陋習,對我們影響最為深遠,從沒有人認為是大事必須改善。

東隧專營權結束 新開始還是一切照舊?

最荒謬的是特區政府口說要搞電子道路收費,卻對現時隧道的收費,主要為實施「人手道路收費」,然後更要「保證」,其停留在30年前靠人手收費的模式,將會得以延續;為減少人手增加利潤,隧道收費人手長期不足,車輛於隧道口大排長龍,造成更塞車的苦果,要市民去承受;為何香港的隧道寧可實施「人手道路收費」而不是「電子收費」呢?原因就是隧道公司為賺到盡,對車主收取$35月費──即使你那個月一次也不使用隧道,也必須付月費;結果車主竟要用月費來買「特權」,以減少「塞車」──由其他車來塞。

1986年9月9日開始動工興建的東區海底隧道,只用了短短三年,在1989年9月21日通車,這是曾幾何時香港所擁有的效率,而且不需要專制獨裁,既不會偷工減料,也不會三頭兩日需要特別維修;如今這種高質素的效率,在特區政府的領導下,已經成為了絕響。

英屬香港時期政府高膽遠矚,在80年代香港經濟繁榮時,建設三條海隧以至後來的玫瑰園計劃──赤臘角機場,屬前贍的規劃;然而當年中國害怕英國「花光香港儲備」,陳佐洱之流甚至恐嚇香港會「車毀人亡」,結果政權移交時的香港,卻是至今大家仍然懷念的香港,而移交後的管治,則每況愈下。

2016年8月7日東隧的30年專營權,終於屆滿了;傳媒集中的焦點有二,其一為東隧9成半的員工留任,但卻只有1年承諾;其二為東隧及紅隧都在政府手上,可作「東減紅加」去分流車輛云云。

最荒謬的是特區政府口說要搞電子道路收費,卻對現時隧道的收費,主要為實施「人手道路收費」,然後更要「保證」,其停留在30年前靠人手收費的模式,將會得以延續;為減少人手增加利潤,隧道收費人手長期不足,車輛於隧道口大排長龍,造成更塞車的苦果,要市民去承受;為何香港的隧道寧可實施「人手道路收費」而不是「電子收費」呢?原因就是隧道公司為賺到盡,對車主收取$35月費──即使你那個月一次也不使用隧道,也必須付月費;結果車主竟要用月費來買「特權」,以減少「塞車」──由其他車來塞。

事實上無論用何種方法計算,電子收費的成本,比起長期請一班員工在收費亭收錢,電子一定勝人手;因此全世界的公路如須收費,只有香港是地球上的例外,即人手繳費竟更低價,因為「電子道路」變成了「搵錢工具」;但如此屈錢,也不能改變成本結構的事實,於是無良的隧道公司,就盡量減少收費人手,令收費亭出現長長的車龍,人為製造塞車;這種無良的結構,特區政府還要照單全收嗎?特區政府連改革目前的收費方式,也不願意去做嗎?

至於所謂「東減紅加」去分流車輛,其實就是把原本已經荒謬的人為干預,變得更荒謬;不計私家車,東隧收費對所有小巴、巴士、貨車等,都要高得多,因此重點在於如何把兩隧的私家車以外的收費拉平,令這些車輛不會為「慳錢」要走遠路;事實上香港不大,把塞車由A地區趕去B地區,根本無助於解決塞車問題,因為最終的車龍,將會由A區塞回B區,或由B區塞回A區;要真正解決,則應該令車輛能盡快結束行駛,回到其泊車位,而不是在街上停留或繞遠路。

林忌

老闆車與中環塞車

首先,公平啲講,中環唔夠位泊車係問題。而中環最多車位嘅地方,非律政中心(舊政府總部)莫屬。以前英治年代,舊政總車位係開放俾公眾放工後泊,紓緩中環車位不足壓力,係董建華條仆街要扮大枝嘢至收埋晒啲車位。既然公屋車位都攞得去賣,不如咁,律政中心啲車位都開放俾公眾,留番少量俾有需要嘅公務員,我相信老闆車 好樂意俾幾千蚊租益政府。

老闆車 ,差不多全中環都知,呢個至係中環塞車嘅真正元兇。喺中環,以下老闆車 亂咁泊情況好普遍。-老闆車-e1470321471203

要解決中環塞車,係要解決老闆車 問題,佢地區區幾舊水牛肉乾都未怕過,你以為電子道路收費嚇到佢地,太天真。

首先,公平啲講,中環唔夠位泊車係問題。而中環最多車位嘅地方,非律政中心(舊政府總部)莫屬。以前英治年代,舊政總車位係開放俾公眾放工後泊,紓緩中環車位不足壓力,係董建華條仆街要扮大枝嘢至收埋晒啲車位。既然公屋車位都攞得去賣,不如咁,律政中心啲車位都開放俾公眾,留番少量俾有需要嘅公務員,我相信老闆車 好樂意俾幾千蚊租益政府。

另一方面,對付老闆車 ,最有效招數係牛肉乾金額同首次登記稅掛鈎。總之非Uber或酒店用貴價車,牛肉乾金額係首次登記稅嘅若干百分比,咁唔涉及私隱喇。咁樣,我唔信仲有 老闆車 會亂泊一通。如果有人仲咁豪氣要益香港政府,我都唔拘嘅。

黃世澤
(原文刊於 黃世澤 Martinoei 網誌)

ERP MythBusters: Cases of Foreign Cities

Each city has its own unique problems and qualities that contribute to the outcome of a policy‭. ‬In Hong Kong‭, ‬there is limited supply of land and almost unlimited quantity of car ownership‭. ‬Prior to ERP implementation‭, ‬our infrastructure needs to keep up with the car population‭. ‬This includes effectual policies on public transit‭, ‬parking‭, ‬loading areas‭, ‬roads and highways‭; ‬and in‭ ‬a wider perspective‭, ‬the urban planning issue should also be re-examined‭.‬

In the midst of the heated debate on implementation of Electronic Road Pricing‭ (‬ERP‭) ‬scheme in the Central Business District‭ (‬CBD‭) ‬of Hong Kong‭, ‬many point to the success of Singapore‭, ‬London and Gothenburg‭.  But the devil’s in the details that show ERP is no cure-all in curbing traffic gridlocks‭.


Myth 1: In other cities, ERP successfully reduced the traffic volume on tolled roads and increased traffic speed.

‭ This is a fundamental rationale for ERP implementation to combat traffic congestion‭. It demands a closer examination, with examples, to truly understand the outcomes‭. ‬In the official Public Engagement Documents on ERP‭, ‬our government has examined the above arguments and focussed on the successful results in London congestion charging‭ (‬congestion charging in London shares its basic conception with ERP‭). ‬A 16%‭ ‬reduction‭, ‬according to their document‭, ‬was recorded in the traffic volume after its first year of execution‭.‬

If we look closer‭, ‬the 16%‭ ‬reduction on the surface represented an aggregated number of traffic volume‭. ‬In reality‭, ‬as suggested in research conducted by The Bow Group‭, ‬the main effect of a change in traffic volume only occurs after 11‭ ‬a.m‭.; ‬in other words‭, ‬the ERP implementation cannot cope with the influx of traffic during peak hours‭.‬

In addition, ‬the congestion charge in London, imposing charge on traffic influx during‭ ‬congestion hours‭ from 7‭ ‬a.m‭. ‬until 6‭ ‬p.m‭., failed to speed up the traffic flow‭‬.Neither did traffic time nor travelling speed of buses improve in congestion zones‭. ‬This calls into question whether ERP in Hong Kong‭, ‬even with charges targeting specific times of the day‭, ‬could successfully resolve the congestion problem during peak hours‭, ‬the problem that concerns most Hong Kong road users‭.‬

 

Myth 2: Taxed revenue from ERP could be used to subsidise the public transportation system, which in turn encourages the use of public transit

‭Opinions have been voiced on subsidising public transportation with the hypothetical revenue from ERP‭. ‬Jakarta Governor Basuki‭ ‘‮‬Ahok‬‭’ Tjahaja Purnama recently proposed a similar idea‭. By using the‭ ‬taxed revenue from private cars in the ERP scheme‭, ‬he hoped to provide free buses to the public that could be conducive to the livelihood of Jarkarta’s citizens. ‬It is expected to encourage the use of public transport and redistribute road users to a more environmentally-friendly and efficient type of commute‭.‬

This brilliant idea‭, ‬should it be put forward in Hong Kong‭, ‬could turn out to be more than just a pipe dream‭. ‬With people commuting between homes in new towns and workplaces in the CBD everyday‭, ‬the transportation system has already exceeded its capacity for passengers during peak hours‭. ‬A free-for-all public transit in Hong Kong would put overwhelming pressure on the current‭ ‬saturated system‭. ‬A reduction in public transportation cost‭, ‬therefore‭, ‬would not be effective enough to dissuade the use of private vehicles while encouraging the use of public transportation‭, ‬if the current development of public transit remains stagnant‭.  ‬

‭ ‬

Fact: Avoidance behavior resulting from ERP could not be prevented with bypass construction, for poor urban planning is the underlying cause of our traffic problem

In cities that implemented ERP‭, ‬road users would devise detour strategies to avoid being charged in congested zones‭. ‬Singapore was the first city in the world to implement ERP to reduce traffic‭, ‬but Singaporeans have already developed an app to guide road‭ ‬users to avoid travelling via ERP charged routes‭. ‬Similar avoidance behavior is expected by opponents of ERP Jakarta though which motorists would find alternative routes around the original ERP route‭. ‬The traffic congestion around the roads applying ERP charges may be worsened‭, ‬according to Jakarta Police chief Inspector General Tito Karnavian‭.‬

In face of the avoidance behavior and potential chaos unleashed upon the ERP implementation‭, ‬our government has commenced the construction‭ ‬of Central-Wanchai bypass‭. Charging on congested roads and opening an alternative bypass‭ could be a sound plan‭. ‬Still‭, ‬the‭ ‬underlying cause of our traffic problem in the CBD is not the growing car ownership‭, ‬but mistakes in urban planning‭. ‬While our government developed new towns that are far off‭, ‬business ventures have always been clustered around CBD‭. A continuous influx of people into the CBD would only exacerbate the current congestion problem‭. The bypass would also soon be filled up‭. ‬Therefore‭, ‬we question the sustainability of developing towns in one place while creating jobs in another‭, ‬and the effectiveness‭ ‬of the bypass in providing an alternative route for avoidance behavior‭. ‬

‭ ‬

Fact: In order for ERP to be successful, infrastructure needs to keep up with the growth of car population, while public transit provides greater net benefits to the society

One of the prerequisites of successful ERP implementation is the provision of alternative forms of commute‭. ‬Governments in cities‭ ‬cited by ERP advocates in Hong Kong‭, ‬often improved their existing public transit network as a complementary measure to deal with the surge of in demand arising from an ERP scheme‭. ‬300‭ ‬buses were deployed on the streets of London‭; ‬frequency and bus lanes were added and rail transit improved in the city of Gothenburg‭; ‬domestic MRT railway network and Light Rail Transit were constructed and expanded‭ ‬between the city hubs and satellite towns in Singapore‭.‬

The emphasis on a more comprehensive public transit in relieving traffic congestion is buttressed by a recent study‭, ‬which argued that traffic could be diverted along specific congested roads‭. ‬It provided rebuttal against the classic theory of‭ “‬fundamental law of highway congestion”. ‬‭The theorist‭, ‬researcher Anthony Downs‭, ‬proposed that regardless of how governments expand public transits‭, ‬maximum capacity on the expressways would always be reached during peak hours‭. ‬Charging for the use of roads‭, ‬according to the theorist‭, ‬was the only way out‭. ‬As proposed by the recent study‭, ‬shifting the focus back to specific congested roads‭, ‬however‭, ‬presents us with the fact that public transit is the key‭.‬

The above study pointed out another cause to our congestion problem‮‬ – the current public transit planning in Hong Kong lacks coordination‭. ‬Our government displays over-reliance on the railway system in planning‭; ‬the dissociation between the on-road commute‭ (‬including buses and minibuses‭) ‬and railway planning has resulted in a mismatch between demand and supply in some of the route services‭.

In the ERP proposal‭, ‬our government has made promises to improve public transit infrastructure upon the ERP implementation‭, ‬including opening the South Island line and Shatin to Central Link‭. ‬Nevertheless‭, ‬in the Public Transport Re-organization Plan to tie in the‭ ‬Commissioning of South Island line‭, ‬part of the existing bus routes were cancelled‭. ‬This shows our government has repeated the‭ ‬same fatal mistake by over reliance on the railway system‭. ‬A more comprehensive and coordinated public transit planning is yet to be‭ ‬seen‭, ‬casting more doubts on whether our government could‭, ‬in reality‭, ‬fulfill the prerequisites of a successful ERP scheme‭.‬

Each city has its own unique problems and qualities that contribute to the outcome of a policy‭. ‬In Hong Kong‭, ‬there is limited supply of land and almost unlimited quantity of car ownership‭. ‬Prior to ERP implementation‭, ‬our infrastructure needs to keep up with the car population‭. ‬This includes effectual policies on public transit‭, ‬parking‭, ‬loading areas‭, ‬roads and highways‭; ‬and in‭ ‬a wider perspective‭, ‬the urban planning issue should also be re-examined‭.‬

We hold no objection to taking references from foreign cities‭, ‬but traffic policies of one city cannot be the carbon copy of another‭. ‬An ineffective ERP scheme would only be perceived as a mean to increase government revenue‭, ‬which our government‭‬ -‬ given‭ ‬the surplus of the fiscal budget‭ -‬‮‬ has no excuse in doing so‭. ‬Since public perception is vital to the governance of local authority‭, ‬ERP could be the undoing of our government that is already so poorly regarded‭.‬

Sensible Transport
(原文刊於 Harbour Times 網頁)

專業人士齊撐電子道路收費?

為甚麼有80%專業人士認同呢?因為專業人士要不福利高,要不就擁有公司或政府提供的特權如車位,或者兩樣皆有,因此對專業人士來說,最大的煩惱不是車價和車租,也不是道路收費,而是太多廢青、廢柴、廢拉、廢物(下刪一萬字)霸佔道路,不能「回報社會」(搵得太少錢),因而「缺乏效益」等等,因此如果可以用錢,趕絕你班死窮鬼、R爛腳、人間廢業,把全香港的道路「還路於有錢人」,當然應該舉腳支持!

香港中文大學未來城市研究所訪問了1200個香港市民,發現有80%的受訪專業人士認同「電子道路收費」,但公眾支持度卻低至44%,比起「專業人士」低得多;林忌作為20%的小眾,感到十分慚愧,因為出賣了自己的階級利益也。

為甚麼有80%專業人士認同呢?因為專業人士要不福利高,要不就擁有公司或政府提供的特權如車位,或者兩樣皆有,因此對專業人士來說,最大的煩惱不是車價和車租,也不是道路收費,而是太多廢青、廢柴、廢拉、廢物(下刪一萬字)霸佔道路,不能「回報社會」(搵得太少錢),因而「缺乏效益」等等,因此如果可以用錢,趕絕你班死窮鬼、R爛腳、人間廢業,把全香港的道路「還路於有錢人」,當然應該舉腳支持!

就好似私人會所一樣,把你班廢物拒諸於門外,私家車變成有錢人俱樂部的專利──「然後我們就開住架鮮紅色的法拉利跑車,用眼尾望下沙甸魚般的車廂內,一大堆汗臭味混雜而成的『熱冷氣巴士』,成車人果副『死樣』,自己心情都靚哂!寧舍精神爽利!我覺得男人到左三十歲仲要依賴(公共)交通工具好可憐,真係好可憐!唔係搵咁多錢,又有咩用呢?」老友甲認真的說。

今日冇「電子道路收費」──「即使開住架『波子』,因為車身特低,被老爺『前七』阻擋視線,更要被困車龍望車尾,居然要同你班友迫?咁我搵咁多錢為乜?搵得錢多,居然唔係排隊優先?居然要同你班死窮鬼一齊塞車?呢個世界仲有天理的?X你老….天理何在?」──老友乙這句,真的耳熟能詳。

「當然唔止係自己飛車,更多係屋企人要用車,買國際學校Debentures花了幾十萬至幾百萬,專門請幾個外傭加司機,竟然要塞車?My Goodness!必須用錢趕絕窮人!香港太多人使得起錢開車!Come on Kay, 可不可以成熟一點呢?」──港媽丙如是說。

我抗辯:「不!雖然我作為既得利益的一員,亦絕對負擔得起呢幾廿蚊的電子道路收費,但你們這樣做是出賣中下階層的利益,甚至斷絕基層市民追求更好生活的階梯

眾人覆:「傻的嗎?你身為專業人士,你就應該幫自己的階級講野;至於班死窮鬼,死開啦!」

林語堂曾經說:「中國有一類人,身處社會最底層,權利時時刻刻在受到著侵害,卻有著統治階級的思想,處處為統治階級辯護。」──香港亦受這種思想病毒所傷害,不少窮人以為「電子道路收費」可以趕絕私家車,卻不知道對價錢最敏感的,其實是他們自己。

林忌

ERP is an inconvenient option but should not be omitted

There is little dispute that, before ERP is rolled out, traffic management measures should be stepped up to provide immediate relief to the most congested roads. One possible measure is a substantial increase in traffic regulating personnel at congestion black spots.

But such efforts cannot outrun the growth in traffic demand generated by the rise of population and development density in an extremely constrained urban road network. More systemic and potent policy instruments have to be put into action to cope with the worsening situation.

To charge or not to charge – that is the question. (Photo credit: Jeni Zhi)



To charge or not to charge – that is the question posed by the government to Hong Kong people when contemplating congestions in the central business districts (CBD). It is believed that by implementing an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) scheme, in which road users are required to pay a fee to enter a defined zone in the CBD during the peak hours, congestion can be reduced because those who are unwilling to pay will avoid making unnecessary trips.

ERP, first proposed for Hong Kong in the 1980s, has never been rid of controversies and public objection. Critics focused predominantly over the issues of privacy and the lack of enforcement of existing traffic regulations.

Around the world ERP has been adopted by a handful of major cities and considered by some others. It has been regarded by and large as a success that can curb congestion. Yet, one must not omit Hong Kong’s own circumstances which may suggest otherwise.

ERP is a straightforward demand-supply regulation. Because the “supply” of road space is limited and its “demand” is high, economic principle dictates that in order to decrease demand, the cost for obtaining road space needs to be raised, so that road users will re-evaluate the benefit of using the road against the total cost imposed on them, eventually resulting in a change of traffic pattern.

Also, because of the negative “externalities” incurred by congestion, road users who “take part” in congestion should compensate for them. Negative externalities refer to those undesirable side effects of congestion, such as noise and air pollution, occupation of urban space and wasted time. These side effects are then suffered by the entire society. Therefore it is the responsibility of the government to implement the necessary measures to redistribute the social cost and hopefully alleviate the situation.

By the same token, public transport users should be rewarded for their more efficient use of road space as opposed to private car users. For example by enhancing service level of railway and bus services and discounting fare.

So much so for the theory, but could ERP reduce congestion in reality? According to foreign examples, traffic flow can be reduced and driving speed increased, at least for the first year of implementation. There is no evidence that it does not work altogether.  But there is no all-rounded approach, in terms of effectiveness, practicality and protection of privacy, has been put into force yet.

There are different ways of charging in ERP systems around the world; and the government is proposing two options: one option is to charge road users every time for crossing the toll points on the boundary of the zone, known as “cordon based” mechanism; the other is to charge road users for entering the charging zone on a daily basis, known as the “area-based” mechanism.

The cordon mechanism could adjust charge rate according to traffic conditions (the more congested the more expensive). Under this mechanism, however, drivers might risk being charged more than once within a short time period due to a limited choice of routing. It could also lead to irritating driving practices such as slowing down before passing the cordon.

As for the area-based mechanism, a flat rate is levied throughout the payment period and valid for the same charging day which is easier to execute. However, its drawback is that it does not discourage use of roads after a vehicle has paid the fee for the day, drivers may even “economise” the charge by making more unnecessary trips.

None of these mechanisms could charge road users according to the distance travelled within the charge zone, hence its precise contribution to congestion. A “distance-based” mechanism would require tracking of vehicle’s exact movements, which in spite of technical feasibility, would be an easy target for critics on privacy.

Singapore is upgrading into a distance-based charging system scheduled for 2020, hinging on a satellite tracking method. The Singaporean authorities claims that privacy can be guaranteed by controlling the nature of information collected so that road users can remain anonymous. But should it be transplanted to Hong Kong, given the public distrust towards the government, people may find it hard to accept anything that could constitute a violation of their personal privacy.

Clearly, the real challenge to ERP is neither theoretical nor practical. It is a political one. Apart from privacy concerns, no road users would advocate for an additional financial burden on driving – on top of all other costs, including the first registration tax (FRT), high parking fees in urban areas, and so on. While for those who could potentially benefit from it, like bus passengers, few of them know about ERP, let alone supporting it. In fact, politicians seldom take an anti-motorist stance, as that could be catastrophic to their popularity.

Worse still, the government has not mentioned explicitly how the revenue generated from ERP will be used. In foreign ERP schemes, revenues are usually earmarked either for improving public transport service or investment in transport infrastructure. But for the Hong Kong government, it intends to use the ERP gains to pool all kinds of revenues into the government treasury for central allocation. This could raise the issue of over-taxation, especially from right-wing economics advocates, since government reserves are already abundant.

Another argument against ERP is that a more stringent enforcement of traffic regulations could be just as effective as ERP in alleviating congestion. Regular road users blame illegal parking, boarding, and alighting to be the fundamental causes of congestion in the CBD. The police and traffic wardens issue fine tickets only at a random and infrequent basis, thus nurturing a culture of disregarding traffic regulations among frequent drivers.

But taking a step back, should ERP be refuted and shelved, the society will continue to suffer from the consequences of congestion and will have to pay the cost indirectly, which are more tremendous to be accounted for than ERP itself. Tackling congestion would benefit the whole society, though it may not be welcomed by everyone.

To be fair, the government has already stretched its arms, at least at the policy level, to reduce traffic and curb congestion. For instance, the FRT is imposed on new vehicle purchases in order to discourage car ownership – yet it has seen a dramatic hike during the past decade due to compounded economic and societal causes. Besides, fuel tax is levied to discourage overall car usage; but it does not address car use in CBD and congested road sections. Not to mention the complicated public transport system, which is already overloaded. Other measures such as legislating new car registration quota per capita and car usage restriction by odd-even number plates are too cumbersome to be considered. As such, it is down to ERP as a tool to proactively regulate road usage patterns.

There is little dispute that, before ERP is rolled out, traffic management measures should be stepped up to provide immediate relief to the most congested roads. One possible measure is a substantial increase in traffic regulating personnel at congestion black spots.

But such efforts cannot outrun the growth in traffic demand generated by the rise of population and development density in an extremely constrained urban road network. More systemic and potent policy instruments have to be put into action to cope with the worsening situation.

It seems sensible to suggest that ERP should work to achieve its goal in large. Nevertheless, it cannot be stressed enough that caution must be taken when it comes to designing the system, so to minimize its nuisance to road users.

Sensible Transport
(原文刊於Harbour Times網頁)

改善中環道路管理勝於電子道路收費

我們認為中環塞車主因就是泊位不足,私人停車場或商場外,常常有一條條長長車龍等候,不然就是不停兜圈找泊車位,自然造成道路擠塞,惡性循環沒完沒了。警方在我們的研究發表後,在今年六月初連續七日實行交通日,嚴格在中環抄牌,但行動過後就塞車還原,成效不彰。

香港政府早前諮詢公眾對於中環附近區域實施電子道路收費的意見。中西區區議會率先於本年3月10日的會議中,以大比數通過動議,反對政府貿然在中區實施電子道路收費先導計劃。

最熟悉地區實況的中西區議員在會上建議政府應先採取其他措施,包括加強打擊非法泊車、增加泊車位供應等,以更有效地紓緩中區及鄰近地區之道路擠塞問題,實在值得讚許。

然而,運輸署楊何蓓茵署長在諮詢完結後,結果報告還未出爐,就於《紫荊》雜誌發表《香港如何解決城市交通難題》一文,字裡行間顯示,當局似乎正在為《中環及其鄰近地區電子道路收費先導計劃》鋪路。在公眾參與的諮詢結果尚未公布,當局就揚言計劃稍後委聘顧問專家進行深入的可行性研究,並擬訂定較具體方案再進行第二階段的公眾參與活動;看來當局有意製造既定事實,與中西區區議會的議決反其道而行。

究竟政府有沒有在規劃土地時做好配套和管理,打擊非法泊車?我們在本年3月11日早上10時至下午6時、3月12日早上9時至下午1時及3月14日早上9時至下午1時派員到中環畢打街及遮打道現場視察違例泊車情況,並定時統計違泊車輛架次,發現違例泊車情況非常嚴重,包括在不當地方上落客貨及不遵守交通指示停泊等,視察及統計結果顯示:

總結3天視察及統計,兩條道路只錄得13次警員上前勸喻或票控違例泊車,期間卻錄得共1,617架次違泊,即平均近124架次違泊才有1次警方勸喻或票控。

3月11日是港島交通日,但統計期間畢打街錄得918架次違泊,警方勸喻及票控只有3次;而遮打道同日錄得308違泊架次,警方勸喻及票控亦只有3次;即兩條道路同日共錄得1,226架次違泊,以合共6次警方勸喻或票控計算,平均近204架次違泊才有1次的警方勸喻或票控。

同日,畢打街最高峰在早上10時至10時半的30分鐘內已錄得85架次違泊車輛;遮打道在同一時間錄得30架次違泊車輛。中午時間亦是違泊的高峰期,畢打街於中午12時半至下午1時錄得72架次違泊車輛,遮打道於同時間則錄得28架次。

違泊車輛中有部分違泊超過30分鐘至1小時,不少是商用上落貨車輛,更發現有政府車輛。

視察及統計3天期間,調查員發現有警員經過時未有對違泊車輛作出任何行動。

我們認為中環塞車主因就是泊位不足,私人停車場或商場外,常常有一條條長長車龍等候,不然就是不停兜圈找泊車位,自然造成道路擠塞,惡性循環沒完沒了。警方在我們的研究發表後,在今年六月初連續七日實行交通日,嚴格在中環抄牌,但行動過後就塞車還原,成效不彰。

我們反對電子道路收費計劃,認為要減少路面擠塞,政府應在規劃土地時做好配套和管理、適量增加泊車位、優化公共交通運輸服務等,才能有效疏導路面,並非以「罪惡徵費」對道路使用者「開刀」,製造中環以外鄰近地區如灣仔、西環塞車,又或迫使貨車在收費區外落貨,再在行人道上推貨物。

何民傑
(原文刊於信報論壇)

ERP 一定得?

大家諗吓喺灣仔出現ERP閘口,就知會有幾膠,如果ERP出現喺軒尼詩道、告士打道、中環-灣仔繞道,大家可以想像到之後皇后大道東、堅尼地道、駱克道、謝斐道等全部都係車,情況仲膠仲混亂。而羅便臣道、堅道、般含道變成ERP迴避道路嘅話,根本想像唔到。

雖然香港膠府同倫敦膠府都向新加坡學習,搞ERP,但新加坡人係好憎ERP,由新加坡呢間果汁店用ERP嚟玩膠,反映咗出嚟。

ERP Avoidance,幾乎係新加坡人嘅駕駛常識,新加坡好多人都有裝Galactio SG呢個App,呢個App最為新加坡度身訂造嘅地方在於,除咗避塞車,仲會度一個經過最少ERP閘道路線。而ERP迴避行為嘅結果,就係新加坡嘅交通擠塞充滿不可預測性,同埋唔應該塞車嘅橫街窄巷,或唔順路有車流地方,都會塞車,因為大家寧願俾多啲油錢同時間,都唔想俾ERP費用。

新加坡係一個無乜山嘅國家,ERP迴避行為雖然都會令交通好膠,但至少你避到ERP,未必造成大問題。但香港呢?

大家諗吓喺灣仔出現ERP閘口,就知會有幾膠,如果ERP出現喺軒尼詩道、告士打道、中環-灣仔繞道,大家可以想像到之後皇后大道東、堅尼地道、駱克道、謝斐道等全部都係車,情況仲膠仲混亂。而羅便臣道、堅道、般含道變成ERP迴避道路嘅話,根本想像唔到。

所以我奉勸張炳良,如果唔想全民問候你娘親,最好咪玩ERP。當然新加坡諗住玩GPS based ERP,呢個會造成另一個問題,之後再談。

黃世澤 Martin Oei

(文章刊載於黃世澤 Martin Oei 網誌專頁)