Infrastructure design professionals on Friday urged Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area authorities to set up an integrated road-condition data platform to ease traffic congestion, a "chronic illness" which harms the livability and sustainable development of the region.
John Batten, global cities director of Arcadis - a leading infrastructure design and consultancy firm - noted the Bay Area should be treated as a regional body; problems of the 11-city cluster should be cooperatively monitored and managed.
He emphasized at the annual conference of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Hong Kong on Friday the necessity of developing a shared real-time traffic-data platform in the region.
Bay Area cities are being urged to set up an integrated road-condition data platform to ease traffic congestion, such as these vehicles crawling along Gloucester Road in Wan Chai. Brent Lewin / Bloomberg
Traffic congestion is one of the most critical problems in Hong Kong and many cities of Guangdong province, he noted, as it prolonged commuting time and aggravated air pollution.
As of March, there were 556,876 private vehicles in the special administrative region. TomTom, a worldwide traffic index, points out that adding 38 minutes extra of travel time per day amounted to 145 hours a year.
According to data collected by mapping company AutoNavi, six Guangdong cities - including five in the Bay Area - were among the top 15 congested cities in China as of May 7.
Batten said such traffic jams in Bay Area cities will also affect Hong Kong, an international metropolis which suffers in this regard as more and more cross-boundary transport infrastructure links the two sides.
To ease the problem, Batten suggested officials in Guangdong and the SAR to learn from the "benchmark" San Francisco Bay Area.
Nearly half a century ago, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission was established to manage transport in the nine-county region in California, United States.
Since 2002, MTC has collected traffic data for this region, with help from the real-time traffic data provider INRIX.
In a panel discussion focusing on what Hong Kong can contribute to the Bay Area, Batten pointed out smart infrastructure should be the key.
According to Hong Kong's Smart City blueprint, 1,200 traffic detectors will be installed to provide real-time traffic information by 2020.
Guangdong province has also launched a mobile app and opened a WeChat account to provide comprehensive traffic information on routing, expressway conditions, public transport schedules, fares and stations' conditions.
Hong Kong lawmaker for the Engineering functional constituency Lo Wai-kwok supported the proposal and added that transport in the Bay Area is not only related to people's livelihood, but also vital to foreign trade, especially against the backdrop of the Belt and Road Initiative.
But he also expressed concerns over the proposal as such cross-boundary cooperation may not be easy since it needs joint efforts of local governments in the region where three tax systems co-exist.