More cars headed for S. Lantau as govt ponders extra permits

South Lantau drivers look set to face even more competition for space and parking spots.

The Transport Department says it is ready to implement the “second phase” of its permit scheme which allows vehicles from outside Lantau to enter the closed road area.

Since February 2016 the department has issued one-day permits for up to 25 private cars and 40 tourist buses under its Driving on Lantau Island Scheme (DLS).

The department said in a statement it had reviewed the scheme in the light of “the continuous improvement” in Lantau transport and road facilities  and had taken into account “utilisation of the quota, public demand, road conditions and transport facilities… as well as conservation concerns.”

Transport Advisory Committee (TAC) chairman Prof Stephen Cheung said on Tuesday the committee welcomed the plan, which members believed would “assist members of the public to visit South Lantau as well as support its economic and community development.”

The department has not spelled out what it means by “second phase,” but given its satisfaction at the scheme so far it almost inevitably means lifting the quota.

Its original proposal in 2015 was to allow 50 private cars and 50 buses per day.

While the increased number of cars is a small increment among the 2000 or so daily vehicle trips that take place inside the closed road area, the lifting of the quota would realize critics’ fears that the number would face continued pressure to be raised.

An even bigger problem is that the increased volume of vehicles would further strain South Lantau’s already-stretched parking capacity.

Even with the new and larger car park. Mui Wo is almost permanently full. Pui O, Upper Cheung Sha, Tong Fuk and Tai O are all but maxed-out as well.

The Transport Department said it will consult stakeholders in the next few months.

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