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80 I N T E R N AT I O N A L P E R S P E C T I V E S O N R O A D P R I C I N G decentralization of the city and the economic impact of After the success of the technological trial and the the cost of the journey to work (Phang 1993; Willoughby potential positive outcome of the ERP, the Hong Kong 2001). government decided to consult the district boards, which represented the public. The government faced two main arguments: the need for road pricing given the Hong Kong scale of the congestion problem and the potential for invasion of privacy. In early June 1985, the proposal of In 1982 the Hong Kong government decided to adopt fis- the ERP was unanimously turned down by the district cal controls to contain traffic. Particular measures intro- boards (Leung and Liu 1985). Borins (1988) discussed duced were the trebling of the annual fee for private cars various tactical and political errors in the process of and the doubling of the fuel tax and the registration fee developing and selling the ERP to the public. for new cars. As a result of the vehicle ownership In 1994 the Hong Kong government revived the idea restraint, private vehicle ownership decreased from of tackling traffic congestion by road pricing. The gov- 211,000 in 1981 to 170,000 in 1984. However, the level ernment commissioned a major feasibility study, which of congestion was only reduced in the least congested began in March 1997, with the objective of examining (low-income) areas and during the same period rose in the practicality of implementing ERP in Hong Kong. Var- the most congested areas (Dawson and Brown 1985). Pri- ious technological alternatives were considered, including vate car and taxi use remained high, particularly during the dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) sys- peak periods (Lewis 1993). tem as currently operated in Singapore and the vehicle In response to this failure, in 1983 the Hong Kong positioning system (VPS) based on the Global Positioning government decided to commission a 2-year investiga- System (GPS). A cordon-based charging scheme was still tion of the viability of introducing a road user charging the preferred alternative for the charging regime. Like the scheme using an ERP. The Hong Kong government scheme designed in 1983, the charging zone would cover chose not to adopt a low-tech option like the ALS in the most congested areas of Hong Kong and be operated Singapore on the basis that it would be too liable to on a directional and time period basis. The initial sugges- fraud and require a considerable amount of enforce- tion was that the peak-period charge would be from 8:00 ment (Borins 1988). The principles of the proposed ERP to 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. A slightly lower charge were similar to those of the current ERP in Singapore would be applied during the interpeak hours. The charge (with a charge per crossing). Three schemes were rate would be set to maintain a target speed of 20 kilo- designed with different locations of charging cordons, meters per hour. It was estimated that the implementation screenlines, and charge structures. The designs were pri- of the proposed ERP would reduce car trips entering the marily intended to cover the most congested areas, charging zones by up to 50%, with 40% diverting to pub- Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The charge structure lic transport and 10% changing travel time. To rectify the was planned to vary by time period and area. The com- failure of the first proposal, there was a well-planned pub- binations of different charging cordons and screenlines lic consultation program to allow public input into the with different charging structures followed the idea of a development of the scheme. theoretical optimum (Dawson and Catling 1986). Technology trials were conducted in late 1998 with The system proposed in the 1983 study was based on both DSRC and VPS technologies. The results showed automatic vehicle identification with a passive electronic that both DSRC and VPS could be adopted in Hong number plate mounted underneath the vehicle. At the Kong and that the privacy issue could be overcome. charging points, inductive power and receiver loops However, in 2001 the government concluded that on installed underneath the road pavement surface would the basis of the feasibility study report in 1999 there be used to detect and identify the vehicle crossing the were no transport and environmental grounds to justify point. The information of crossing vehicles and their ERP (Legislative Council 2001). Therefore, the govern- crossing times would then be transmitted from the road- ment decided not to pursue the implementation of the side computer to the main accounting and billing system. ERP, despite the promising results of the technological The motorists crossing the charging points would then trials. Although the technological barrier in relation to receive a bill monthly. Enforcement would be conducted the privacy issue has been overcome, the question of the via closed-circuit television, which would record the rear political and public acceptability of ERP remains. number plates of the vehicles. Technological tests with around 2,600 cars confirmed a high reliability rate for the system. The proposed ERP was expected to decrease Other Asian Developments the traffic volume by at least 20% during the peak hours, and the capital cost of the scheme was estimated to be Especially in Asia, the rapid growth of the economy has around $30 million (in 1983) (Borins 1988). catalyzed the growth of traffic and vehicle ownership. In