On its inaugural day of operation, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge has only achieved 37 per cent of the expected vehicle flow predicted in 2008.

According to its control centre, the bridge was used 2,305 times by 10pm on Wednesday, following 13 hours of operation. A total of 965 vehicles were Hong Kong-bound whilst 1,340 vehicles were headed to Zhuhai and Macau. Of the journeys recorded, 1,154 were in small private cars, 1,120 were shuttle buses, and 31 were trucks.

The numbers were much lower than the estimated figures published by the three governments in 2008. They predicted 9,200 to 14,000 vehicles per day when the bridge opened, averaging 483 vehicles per hour.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Photo: GovHK.

As for passenger flow, the Immigration Department said that 9,994 passengers entered Hong Kong via the bridge by 4pm Wednesday and 12,950 left the city. The average was 3,278 per hour – higher than the estimated 2,605 passenger trips per hour predicted a decade ago.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan said on Wednesday that the government had estimated usage figures up to 2030, but said they should only be used as a reference since the development of the economies and cities may change.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
Passengers at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Photo: GovHK.

“Our main goal is to increase the usage volume of the bridge, and to ensure that the traffic in Hong Kong, especially on Lantau Island, can run smoothly,” he said.

He said it was a natural phenomenon that traffic flow would be similar to the ocean’s tide, with high and low periods.

He added it would be even more convenient for Hong Kong residents to use the bridge when the link road to the airport was completed next year, and another to Tuen Mun in 2020.

Frank Chan
Frank Chan speaking to a bus driver at the Hong Kong port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Photo: GovHK.

The Hong Kong government did not reveal any updated estimates for the early vehicular and passenger flow when asked by a lawmaker in January.

But it said a consultant engaged by the three sides estimated that the daily traffic volume of the bridge would be around 29,100 and 42,000 vehicles in 2030 and 2037 respectively, while the daily passenger flow would be 126,000 and 175,000 passenger trips respectively.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.