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.
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.
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.
On 18 March 2019, a two-train collision occurred at Central station during testing of the new signalling system on the Tsuen Wan Line.
The first train T131 travelling from Admiralty Station to Central Station platform 1, collided with second train T112 which was leaving Central Station for Admiralty Station, resulting in damage to the second to fourth cars of train T112 and derailment of two bogies of the first car of train T131.
The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department’s (EMSD) led an investigation into the incident, finding that it was caused by a programming error introduced into the the new signalling system at the design and development stage.
On my most recent visit to Hong Kong I went on a boat trip off Lantau Island, and found something bizarre on the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge – a mysterious looking white building atop an artificial island in the middle of the sea, with zero signs of life to be found. So what is it?
The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge is a 55 kilometres long bridge–tunnel connecting Hong Kong to China, with two artificial islands in the middle marking the transition between bridge and a 6.7-km immersed tube tunnel beneath the main shipping channel.
And this is the mysterious looking white building atop the eastern artificial island, at the Hong Kong side of the tunnel.
I first saw the artificial island back in November 2013, by which point land reclamation was complete, but the tunnel and bridge either side were still incomplete.
Popularity of Zhuhai bridge trips highlights gap between Hong Kong and mainland tourists
20 January 2018
With the cross-border bridge linking Hong Kong with Macau and Zhuhai set to open for traffic this year, some mainland-based tour operators have stolen a march by offering packages for travellers to see the infrastructure from afar. But there was a stark contrast on either side of the border in the popularity of the tours – given a warm welcome by those in the north and the cold shoulder in Hong Kong.
Over the last two months of 2017, Hong Kong-based China Travel Service (CTS) organised just 10 groups to join a hot springs tour which included a distant sea view of the bridge. But in December alone, Guangzhou-based agency Guangzhilv had 882 visitors sign up for tours that included boat trips to view the bridge.
It has been reported that upon the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) opening to traffic on the 24th of last month, a large number of tourists entering the territory via HZMB have flocked to Tung Chung, and the daily lives of the residents there have been greatly affected as a result. F
or example, daily commodities were snapped up and sold out, restaurants experienced an overflow of customers, and a large number of tourists waiting at Tung Chung Bus Terminus for buses heading for the Hong Kong Port caused obstruction to passageways and noise nuisances.
Despite the introduction of a number of tourist diversion measures as announced by the Government on the 9th of this month, the situation has not been significantly improved.
Turns out some visitors are only interested in seeing the bridge.
Based on the experience gained from the past few weekends, around one-fifth of visitors arriving at Hong Kong through the HZMB BCF did not leave the BCF to visit other districts in Hong Kong by taking local public transportation. This indicates that many of the visitors arriving at Hong Kong through the HZMB BCF mainly intended to visit the HZMB itself and might not be keen to enter Hong Kong.
In addition, the Government is arranging for the setting up of temporary small-scale shops or booths in the HZMB’s BCF to allow travellers to buy souvenirs therein. We are also exploring the introduction of food trucks to serve travellers near the BCF and in Sunny Bay.
Which leads us back to the eastern artificial island.
The Government is exploring with relevant Mainland authorities the opening of the HZMB’s East Artificial Island to the aforementioned group tourists, so as to allow such tourists to visit the HZMB and return to Zhuhai or Macao from the East Artificial Island without crossing the border of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Greater Bay Area has great potential as tourism hub
23 March 2019
Diverse and appealing tourist attractions across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will make the region an attractive destination for international travelers, says Lo Sui-on, director of China Travel Service (Hong Kong) and Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress.
In his NPC submission this year, Lo said the newly opened Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge should be fully utilized. One of the highlights is the planned tourism center at the east artificial island of the 55-kilometer HZMB – near the Hong Kong side. It should be open to the public soon, Lo said.
The 100,000-square-meter eastern island is located in mainland waters but very close to Hong Kong International Airport. According to the bridge operator, the HZMB Authority, it has buildings reserved for tourism facilities. These include a parking lot, a canteen, shops and a sightseeing platform.
However, the island is a grey area in terms of immigration and customs control. It is located in between checkpoints at the two ends. The relevant authorities are still studying its feasibility, the HZMB Authority said.
“As some travelers just want to visit the bridge, there should be a ‘green channel’ for them, allowing them to visit the east island without crossing the boundary,” Lo said.
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge seeks world-class tourist attraction to alleviate Chinese tourist congestion
26 April 2019
Plans are underway to turn one of the artificial islands that makes up the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge into a world-class tourist attraction in an attempt to address complaints about the US$15.3 billion project.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority has invited entertainment companies to bid for the overall planning and conceptual design of a tourism development and supporting facilities on the eastern artificial island of the bridge close to Hong Kong’s Lantau Island, according to a notice posted on its official website.
The operator is stepping up its effort to address complaints over insufficient traffic that could effect the bridge’s commercial viability as well as increased tensions between visitors and Hong Kong residents due to congestion close to the Hong Kong checkpoint.
A staff member with the project’s bidding agent, who refused to give her name, said the operator is open for any concept or style for the project, and that it does not have a preconceived idea of what the island attraction should be.
“They want the bridge [tourist project] to be a world-class brand to attract global visitors,” she said.
Chinese tourists have shown great enthusiasm for the colossal structure as a symbol of China’s engineering prowess and have flocked in large numbers, although this had led to the tensions with local residents of Tung Chung on Lantau Island in Hong Kong who have complained about being inundated by mainland Chinese visitors.
The new plan, for which bidders have until April 30 to complete the application procedure and summit documentation ahead of a field trip and a bidding briefing on May 10, would mean Chinese tourists would not need to enter the city itself.
I guess that explains what the mysterious building!
Footnote: how big are the artificial islands
I found this badly translated page detailing the size of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge artificial islands:
The east artificial island is 1563 meters from the Tonggu Channel centreline and it is in oval shape, 625 meters long and 225 meters wide, covering an area of 103,000 square meters.
The west artificial island is 2018 meters from the Lingding Channel (Lingdingyang / 伶仃洋) centreline. It is also in oval shape, 625 meters long and 185 meters wide, covering an area of 98,000 square meters.
The Zhuhai-Macao Ports have built on a newly-filled artificial island, and the island is 950 meters wide from west to east, 1930 meters long from north to west, covering an area of 2,170,000 square meters.
Hong Kong Port is also on an artificial island with an area of 1300,000 square meters, close to Hong Kong International Airport.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge connects Hong Kong to Mainland China – but where does the bridge cross from the waters of Hong Kong into China’s Guangdong Province, and what marks it?
So where is the border?
From a legal perspective people cross the border at the “Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities“, located on a 150 hectare artificial island reclaimed from the open waters off the northeast of the Hong Kong International Airport.
The two sections of the bridge were constructed under separate contracts – one in Hong Kong, the other in China. This meant that the eastern side of the HZMB Main Bridge immersed tube tunnel included a short section of viaduct as far as the border.
The Hong Kong Link Road reached this short stub on 27 January 2017 and a ceremony was held on the Hong Kong side of the border, in front of an interesting feature – a big steel fence preventing access to the Mainland China side!
‘Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge Hong Kong Link Road’ street sign,
‘0.0 km W’ distance marker sign, and
‘Hong Kong’ destinations painted on each lane.
Down at water level the border is also visible – the left pier is in Mainland China waters and the pier to the right is in Hong Kong.
The different styles of bridge parapet and pier design are visible from this angle, as well as a curious design feature – the bridge span from the Chinese side crosses over the border, where there is an expansion gap atop ‘Pier 0’ of the Hong Kong Link Road.
Due to the close proximity of the two countries, the Hong Kong Police Force keep a patrol boat in the area.
Did you notice the fisherman sitting atop the pier on the Hong Kong site?
More photos by Justin Chin/Bloomberg: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.