Hong Kong Wilson NC
The report concluded that traffic congestion has five recurrent causes in Hong Kong:
- Physical and spatial constraints to expanding road infrastructure make it impossible to add capacity to meet demand, with scope for additional capacity becoming severely limited (expecting around 0.4% per annum expansion in road length by 2020);
- Size of the vehicle fleet continues to grow, at a rate of around 3.4% per annum in recent years;
- Competing use of road space generates network delays, such as the loading/unloading of trucks, pick up/set down of buses, taxis and cars, and vehicles circulating for kerbside parking. All of these activities interfere with smooth traffic flow;
- Illegal parking and stopping, exacerbated by parking fine penalties not increasing by inflation;
- Road works, whether to maintain the highway or in relation to infrastructure underneath the highway.
Measures proposed to address it run across the whole range of road pricing measures, including ownership taxes, fuel tax, parking charges and road pricing itself:
- Increase the First Registration Tax (for all newly registered vehicles) and Annual Licence Fee, including for "Environmentally Friendly Petrol Private Cars"(which have a concession) to reduce the growth in vehicle ownership.
- Tighten up the category for "Environmentally Friendly Petrol Private Cars" reflecting that they still contribute to congestion (this can be done by continually lifting the standard to reflect the latest technology);
- Fuel tax on diesel should be reintroduced, as diesel is tax free, but petrol taxed at HK$6.06 per litre (US$0.78 per litre). This incentivises a shift to diesel, which should be removed.
- Increased parking meter charges (as these have not increased in 20 years, but inflation in that time would have added 40% to them) as they are significantly underpriced compared to commercial parking facilities, and encourage circulation of vehicles seeking for parks.
- Central District of Hong Kong should be a pilot site for a congestion charge pilot scheme, following completion of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass, with early public engagement on how it should be implemented.
Longer term it proposes a more technology led approach to parking, including real time information on parking space vacancies to minimise time spent looking for parks. The report also proposes incentivising on-street loading and unloading of freight during off peak hours, through electronic road pricing, and more park and ride facilities at stations.The Standard (of Hong Kong) reports that the Financial Secretary is unlikely to support increasing the taxes on owning cars, as the issuing of the report in December has apparently meant new car sales have increased 10% as motorists seek to avoid the higher First Registration Tax.
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