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February 4th, 2016:

ERP not the perfect solution to congestion – Letters to the Editor

The public consultation process into electronic road pricing (ERP) is ongoing and will end next month.

Under an ERP scheme drivers would have to pay fees when they pass through certain parts of the city, such as congested urban areas.

It has been adopted successfully in a number of cities, including London and Singapore, although the pricing mechanism by each local authority is different.

The Hong Kong government is particularly keen to launch the scheme in Central, because the traffic congestion there is so serious and causes problems for the many people who are based in offices there.

However, we have to ask if it would be effective in an area of the city like the central business district (CBD).

Many professionals who work there are employed on good salaries in large companies and they are generally fairly well-off.

They travel to work by private car because they can afford to do so and it is convenient. They may not be worried by ERP charges and will be happy to pay them so they can continue to drive into and out of the CBD.

The other problem is that if a lot of them did leave their cars at home after the introduction of ERP, they would travel on buses, minibuses and the MTR and this could exacerbate overcrowding on public transport networks.

The best solution is for companies to coordinate car pooling so that cars going into the CBD carry more passengers.

Also more flexible working times could be introduced, because at the moment most people are travelling to and from work at the same time.

We could also look at the system used in some mainland cities where cars have -access on certain days according to their licence plates.

I do hope the government will be able to find ways to alleviate the traffic problems and serious congestion in Central.

Donald Chan, Tseung Kwan O
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