Hong Kong motorists have to pay tolls to use many roads and bridges, and the Lantau Link that connects the airport, Lantau Island and the urban areas in Hong Kong is no different. But when the road first opened back in 1997, the tolling arrangements were a little unusual.
A conventional toll plaza was located on the Lantau Island side of the bridge at Tsing Chau Tsai.
With both ‘Autotoll‘ and cash payments being accepted.
But due to the road being the only route for cars on and off Lantau Island, motorists were only charged once.
Westbound traffic was free to drive onto Lantau Island, with three lanes left open at the toll plaza.
With the return trip toll being paid by eastbound traffic when returning to the mainland.
But in 2017 this was changed, due to the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge.
Which provided a second route for cars to leave Lantau Island.
So conventional two way tolling arrangements were put in place starting 20 August 2017, with motorists charged half the amount of the previous return toll.
A two minute closure of the Lantau and Ma Wan Toll Plazas was put in place at 00:00 on the night of the changeover, to allow the tolling software to be changed over to the new prices.
Physical changes at the toll plaza were also needed, to construct additional toll booths.
The open westbound traffic lane were closed, and traffic diverted through the ‘mothballed’ toll booths either side.
But despite the advance notice, motorists were caught unaware – with traffic stretching back as far as 15 kilometres away from the toll plaza.
And the connection to Ma Wan
The island of Ma Wan is located midway between Tsing Yi and Lantau Island.
With road access provided via the Lantau Link, with east facing entry and exit ramps connected to the Tsing Ma Bridge.
A toll plaza is located where the ramps join the local road network on Ma Wan.
And just like the road onto Lantau Island, until 2017 a single return toll was charged for vehicles accessing Ma Wan.
But interestingly the toll was charged on arrival. Only authorised vehicles are permitted on the roads of Ma Wan, so presumably a combined toll and permit check was considered a more efficient arrangement.
And another one way toll
Sydney, Australia also has a one way toll arrangement on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
Southbound traffic gets a free ride, which removed the need to provided two sets of toll booths on the constrained site in the Sydney CBD.
From Proposals on Technical Legislative Amendments on Traffic Arrangements for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge dated 24 February 2017
Lantau Link one way toll
At present, the Lantau Link provides the only vehicular access to Lantau (including Chek Lap Kok) and Ma Wan. For the convenience of motorists, one-way toll collection has been implemented since the opening of the Lantau Link in 1997. After the commissioning of the HZMB, vehicles after travelling to Lantau via the Lantau Link can use the HZMB to travel to areas outside Hong Kong and return to Hong Kong through other boundary control points.
Hence, the one-way toll collection of the Lantau Link (including Ma Wan) has to be changed to two-way toll collection (if a vehicle makes use of the Lantau Link for entering and leaving Lantau, the total amount of toll paid by the vehicle for using the Lantau Link will remain unchanged). All vehicles (including taxis) travelling through the Lantau Link has to pay tolls at the Lantau Link Main Toll Plaza when entering and leaving Lantau. Such two-way toll collection is also applicable to vehicles entering and leaving Ma Wan.
According to Schedule 5 to the existing Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations (Cap 374D), a taxi passenger has to pay an additional fare when hiring a taxi which involves the use of the Lantau Link. Since the existing formulation of the additional fare set out at Schedule 5 only applies to one-way toll collection of the Lantau Link, we need to make technical amendment to Schedule 5 to the Regulations to tie in with the implementation of two-way toll collection of the Lantau Link. The level of the additional fare to be paid by a taxi passenger for hiring a taxi which involves the use of the Lantau Link will remain unchanged.