Transport Dept to review bus-only lane on Tuen Mun Road

The Transport Department will conduct large-scale traffic surveys after the commissioning of the West Rail, in which the operation of a bus-only lane on Tuen Mun Road will be included, for the entire area of the northwest New Territories (NT).

A spokesman for the department said today (November 16) the review was in response to a demand for the opening of Siu Lam Interchange during the operating hours of the bus-only lane (from 7am to 9am daily except Sundays and public holidays).

The spokesman said vehicles on Castle Peak Road were prohibited from entering the slip-road to Tuen Mun Road eastbound at Siu Lam Interchange during the operation of the bus-only lane. "If this restriction is lifted, a heavy volume of vehicles will be entering the bus-only lane and the operation will be seriously disrupted.

"Furthermore, there are road safety concerns if these vehicles are required to weave from the exit slip-road of the Interchange into the heavily trafficked middle and outer lanes of Tuen Mun Road eastbound, thus crossing the bus-only lane in a short distance," he said.

At present, about 960 bus trips including franchised buses and coaches carry over 60,000 passengers who benefit from the bus-only lane scheme each morning.

"It will be most suitable to conduct surveys after the West Rail opening because it is a major mass passenger transport system for the entire northwest NT area. It will definitely affect the transport and traffic patterns of passengers, which form the crucial input to our review.

"In fact, the department has conducted 'before' surveys at end-2002 and in early 2003. The 'after' surveys will start two to three months after the West Rail opening as it will take some time to complete the modifications of the franchised bus service and for the transport and traffic pattern to become stabilised," he said.

The spokesman noted that according to the present programme, the outcome of the review would be available after April, 2004.

"After the completion of the review, both Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan District Councils will be consulted," he added.

The Transport Department's last review of the bus-only lane operation in view of changes to the traffic patterns in the northwest NT areas was conducted in mid-2001. The review concluded that in view of the overall large benefits of the scheme, the bus-only lane on Tuen Mun Road should be maintained.

Since 1995, a Kowloon-bound bus-only lane has been in operation on Tuen Mun Road. The length of the bus-only lane is about 8.5 kilometres from So Kwun Wat to Sham Tseng Interchange.

Ends/Sunday, November 16, 2003