Third Comprehensive Transport Study Final Report



i. In 1990, the Government published a White Paper on transport policy entitled "Moving into the 21st Century" which was based on the recommendations made in the Second Comprehensive Transport Study in the late 1980s. Since then, new developments have taken place and public expectations on transport services have risen. The upward revision of the population forecasts, an enhanced housing programme, the rapidly increasing cross boundary traffic and the recent growing concern over environmental impact, particularly adverse air quality, all point to a need to update and refine Hong Kong's transport infrastructure and policy framework. With these missions in mind, the Transport Department commissioned the Third Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS-3) which started in August 1997.

ii. The objective of CTS-3 is to provide a framework on which Government can develop a balanced transport strategy to facilitate the mobility of people and goods of Hong Kong in an environmentally sustainable manner up to 2016. The Study comes at a time when the community has become more aware of the costs of mobility on our environment.

Study Approach

iii. CTS-3 uses 1997 as the base year against which future scenarios are compared. The Study has found that while there were localised congestion problems, the average peak hour travelling speed in 1997 was at a reasonable level. Transport was considered to have contributed to environmental problems, particularly with regard to air quality and noise impacts. Environmental matters were addressed in a Strategic Environmental Assessment.

iv. In view of the uncertainty in the future development of Hong Kong over a long period, CTS-3 has adopted an envelope of study assumptions taking into account the effects of different population, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), vehicle fleet size and cross boundary traffic growth rates. The framework cast under this approach enables the development of robust and flexible transport strategies and infrastructure programmes to cope with a wide range of growth scenarios.

v. An initial set of demand forecasts was prepared to examine the conditions that would exist if only 'committed' infrastructure projects are assumed to be implemented (through year 2016) and no changes to existing demand management policies are adopted. The combination of capacity deficiencies and road speed reductions under this scenario indicates that acceptable levels of mobility will not be achieved without additional infrastructure and/or new demand management policies.

vi. While CTS-3 has identified the level of infrastructure provision necessary to meet our rising travel demand, it recognises the fact that simply building more roads is not a solution as the corresponding increase in traffic will put additional pressure on the environment. Coping with an unrestrained growth of vehicle fleet size by infrastructure provision alone will have adverse environmental impacts. A choice will have to be made between introducing further restraint on vehicle fleets, or building infrastructure to handle the flows. CTS-3 has included a Strategic Environmental Assessment to evaluate the environmental benefits and disbenefits of various transport development options.

vii. Based on the results of a consultation exercise conducted in June 1998, CTS-3 adopts the following guiding principles in formulating the future transport framework:

* Integrating land-use, transport and environmental planning;

* According priority to railways;

* Co-ordinating and enhancing public transport services;

* Providing transport infrastructure in a more timely fashion;

* Managing transport with new technologies;

* Giving more emphasis to pedestrian needs; and

* Alleviating the environmental impact of transport to an acceptable level.

Integrating Land-use, Transport and Environmental Planning

viii. In developing transport infrastructure programmes, CTS-3 recommends an integrated approach taking into account land-use and environmental planning in order to minimise the need for travel. CTS-3 recommends that future population and employment centres should be placed in the vicinity of railway stations served by integrated pedestrian systems and other transport feeder services to maximise the usage of railways. Movements of commercial vehicles should also be planned to avoid concentrating traffic flows to some districts like the Central Business District.

According Priority to Railways

ix. Railway will form the backbone of the future passenger transport network and the development of rail stations should synchronise with land-use development. CTS-3 identifies the railway corridor travel demand and the Second Railway Development Study takes that on board to recommend a railway development plan which will connect the major population and employment centres across the territory. It is anticipated that railway will become the major passenger carrier, handling about 40% to 50% of the total public transport patronage by 2016. The development programme for railways will be examined under the Second Railway Development Study, which is due to be completed by the end of 1999.

Public transport interchange at Hong Kong Station

Co-ordinating and Enhancing Public Transport Services

x. CTS-3 recommends that through better co-ordination and integration of various transport modes, the capacity and efficiency of public transport services could be maximised, priority given to off-street modes, and wasteful competition between different operators minimised. CTS-3 recommends to consider providing a number of major high standard public transport interchanges at strategic locations that should be served by at least one mass carrier such as Mass Transit Railway (MTR) or Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR). Park and ride facilities should be provided at suitable locations to encourage a shift from private cars to public transport modes. The Study also recommends that quality of bus services be improved by expanding the air-conditioned bus fleet, that existing fare collection integration schemes be expanded to cover all major public transport services and that a passenger information system be developed to help passengers make an informed choice on route planning.

Providing Transport Infrastructure in a More Timely Fashion

xi. Highways and railways perform different functions. While railways are extremely effective at moving large numbers of passengers between fixed centres, highways are essential for commercial vehicle operations for both freight movements and service industries as well as for road-based public transport and emergency services. While the railway network will be expanded quite extensively in the future, there remains a need to build some new highway infrastructure in strategic corridors to support economic growth. CTS-3 recommends a road-building programme for Hong Kong for the next 20 years. To ensure that the provision of infrastructure is robust enough to take into account future changes in developmental factors such as population, GDP growth, vehicle fleet sizes, etc., CTS-3 recommends consideration be given to developing a review system to ensure that the need, timing, scope and priorities of the relevant highway projects are re-assessed before implementation in light of the latest development. This will help the Government implement infrastructure projects in a more timely manner.

Managing Transport with New Technologies

xii. The use of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) could help maximise the efficiency of existing transport infrastructure and facilities. CTS-3 identifies a number of core ITS applications that would be beneficial to Hong Kong's transport system. These applications include driver information systems to provide up-to-date traffic information and route guidance to drivers, automated tracking, dispatch and weigh-in-motion systems to improve the productivity of commercial and public transport fleets, and a combination of traffic signal control, speed control, lane control and ramp control systems to help alleviate congestion. CTS-3 recommends that further studies should be carried out to investigate the feasibility of these applications in Hong Kong.

Giving More Emphasis to Pedestrian Needs

xiii. CTS-3 recognises that walking is an important mode and that facilities for pedestrians need to be incorporated into a transport plan. Pedestrianisation, together with grade-separated and safe pedestrian facilities, can help reduce the number of short motorised trips, reduce conflict between pedestrians and vehicles, increase mobility, enhance road safety and benefit the environment. CTS-3 recommends strengthening of existing planning guidelines to develop the concept of planning around pedestrians in new areas and redevelopments.

Pedestrianisation of waterfront promenade at Tsim Sha Tsui

Alleviating the Environmental Impact of Transport

xiv. As the air pollutants emitted from some major emission sources such as power plants are well dispersed at high levels, pollutant emissions from road vehicles manifest themselves in the form of poor street level air quality. It is estimated that transport contributed approximately 65% and 75% of the street level emissions of nitrogen oxides and respirable suspended particulates in 1997, respectively.

xv. The noise impact of traffic is also of concern. It is estimated that in 1997 about 429,000 people living in the vicinity of major roads addressed in the Strategic Environmental Assessment are exposed to excessive noise levels.

xvi. In order to tackle the situation, the Government is progressively implementing a series of control measures. In addition CTS-3 has identified a number of possible environmental improvement measures with a view to contributing to more sustainable development. Further studies will need to be conducted into the feasibility and cost effectiveness of some of these measures.

Major Findings

xvii. CTS-3 finds that with the timely and co-ordinated implementation of appropriate transport infrastructure, public transport services and traffic management measures, the mobility level can be maintained and even improved under the three growth scenarios tested in the Study, as compared with that of the 1997 base year.

xviii. CTS-3 also finds that public transport services will continue to dominate the transport scene in Hong Kong and will account for almost 90% of all person trips in Hong Kong in 2016. Railway will take over franchised bus and become the most used public transport mode in Hong Kong, handling about 40% to 50% of the total public transport patronage by 2016.

xix. As regards the impact of road traffic on the environment, the results of the Strategic Environmental Assessment show that the implementation of the various control measures on vehicle emissions being put forward by the Government initiatives will generally reduce vehicle emission and improve the environment in the short term. However, the magnitude of reduction is not sufficient to bring the air quality in compliance with the Hong Kong Air Quality Objectives (AQOs). There will continue to be non-compliance with the AQOs for the recommended transport strategy under all considered scenarios for the year 2016. The higher the rate of increase in traffic volumes, the sooner the benefits of short term reductions in emissions will be lost. Therefore, additional measures will be required to manage vehicle use and reduce emissions from road transport. Strategies to build public acceptance for such measures will need to be developed.

xx. In respect of noise assessment, the predicted noise exposure is measured as a combination of the number of people affected and the degree to which they are affected. This is anticipated to increase, largely as a result of increase of heavy vehicles. A low rate of growth in traffic demand still shows deterioration as compared with the 1997 baseline year situation. It is obvious that if the heavy vehicle issue is not tackled, the road traffic noise problem is unlikely to see any significant improvement. CTS-3 has suggested a number of noise mitigation measures for alleviating the noise impact.

Summary of Recommendations

xxi. CTS-3 recommends:

(1) Integration of Land-use, Transport and Environmental Planning

To strengthen existing planning guidelines on population and employment related land-use with a view to intensifying developments around railway stations and public transport interchanges.

(2) According Priority to Railways

(a) To develop the concept that railway should form the backbone of the future passenger transport network, with development of rail stations to synchronise with land-use development; and

(b) To provide the railway corridor travel demand for further examination by the Second Railway Development Study.

(3) Co-ordination and Enhancement of Public Transport Services

(a) To set up a network of high standard public transport interchanges;

(b) To develop a public transport passenger information system;

(c) To expand the existing fare collection integration schemes; and

(d) To provide for park-and-ride and kiss-and-ride activities as far as practicable.

(4) Provision of Transport Infrastructure in a More Timely Fashion

(a) To develop a review system to reassess the need, timing, scope and priorities of strategic highway projects before implementation, and, if confirmed, to ensure their timely implementation; and

(b) To pursue early conduct of the feasibility, investigation and possibly preliminary design studies for the infrastructure projects recommended in CTS-3.

(5) Traffic Management and Application of New Technologies

(a) To continue monitoring the growth in the vehicle fleet, and the resultant increase in highway traffic, and to act if economic growth picks up and problems start to manifest;

(b) To implement parking restraint selectively on individual merits; and

(c) To investigate the feasibility of various cost-effective intelligent transport system applications in Hong Kong.

(6) Planning for Pedestrians

(a) To strengthen existing planning guidelines to develop the concept of planning around pedestrians in new areas and redevelopments;

(b) To enhance the pedestrian mode in developed areas; and

(c) To plan and provide cycleways in new towns and rural areas, where appropriate and possible.

(7) Environmental Improvement Measures

(I) To proceed with the following proposed improvement measures-

(a) Improvement of vehicle emission standards to Euro III;

(b) Use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for taxis; and

(c) Improvement of emission standards for new motorcycles.

(II) To consider other possible improvement measures for further feasibility study, including -

(a) Expanded river trade terminal operation;

(b) Freight rail;

(c) Alternative fuels;

(d) Tailpipe emission reduction measures;

(e) More stringent noise emission standards;

(f) Engine encapsulation;

(g) Low noise road surface;

(h) Retrofitting existing roads (e.g. noise barriers); and

(i) Alternative vehicle types such as fuel-efficient vehicles.