Only one container truck used the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge on Sunday, government figures have revealed.

The bridge was used 3,120 times in total – the highest vehicle flow since the mega-bridge project opened last Wednesday. The quietest day was last Thursday, when just 1,938 vehicles passed over the bridge. The figures are still much lower than the 2008 estimate of 9,200 to 14,000 vehicles per day.

Container truck numbers have remained low – the highest number was ten last Friday, and Sunday was the lowest.

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

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan said 12,000 Hong Kong trucks have both Hong Kong and mainland licences and they have been able to use the bridge since it opened.

“The logistics and cargo handling sectors have to run their trucks in accordance with their actual needs, depending on demand for goods, the location of customers, and the final destinations – so some time for adaptation will be needed… so you see the truck number is relatively low,” Chan said.

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“I would expect the logistics sector and the cargo handling sector would be using more of it in due course,” he added.

The number of goods vehicles – other than container trucks – passing over the bridge was also low. The highest number was last Friday when 31 used the bridge, and the lowest was 15 last Sunday.

The bridge is used much more frequently by private cars and shuttle buses.

Chan said the government’s plan was to issue 5,000 more permits next week, increasing the total number of Hong Kong private cars that can use the bridge to 10,000.

When asked by reporters if it was an “emergency measure” to boost vehicle numbers, Chan said there was agreement between the three cities to slowly increase the number of private cars permitted.

“We saw that the overall traffic situation last week was smooth… That’s why we follow our existing plan to issue 5,000 more permits,” he said.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
A shuttle bus for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Photo: GovHK.

For a Hong Kong private car driver to use the bridge, they must have permits from all three cities. The application to obtain Hong Kong and Macau permits may take 12 working days to complete – and insurance from Macau and Zhuhai is also required. They will also have to reserve parking spaces 12-hours before departure.

YouTube video

A video produced by the Hong Kong government claims the application process to use the bridge is “simple and convenient.”

Higher weekend passenger flow

Over the weekend, the bridge served more individual passengers than the 2008 estimation of 62,525 per day. Chan said around 35,000 passengers used the bridge each day last week, whilst 68,000 used it on Saturday, and 78,000 on Sunday.

Long queues formed at the Hong Kong port on Sunday evening, as passengers awaited shuttle buses.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
Long queue at the Hong Kong port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge on October 28. 2018.

Chan said there were 90 shuttle buses departing from the Hong Kong port between 6pm and 8pm, which should be enough to handle the queue. But the sheer volume of passengers meant longer waiting times as people boarded.

“We have reviewed this with the operator to look at future arrangements, especially for weekends, so that we can provide more information [and] provide more choices to passengers,” he said.

Chan denied the government failed to communicate well enough with the operator, and said it will take time to improve the process.

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.