Long traffic jams greet Hong Kong tourists trying out new Shenzhen-Zhongshan Link

Hong Kong residents taking cross-border buses for an inaugural trip on a new mega link over the Pearl River Delta faced longer journey times than expected amid heavy congestion on the much-anticipated launch day.

A Post reporter joined local tourists for the bus trip via the 24km Shenzhen-Zhongshan Link, which opened on Sunday after seven years of construction and connects the cities through two bridges, two artificial islands and a sea tunnel.

The bus journey from Kwun Tong to Zhongshan on the western side of the delta took six hours, significantly longer than the expected 90 minutes.

At 2pm, the reporter boarded one of the first buses to Zhongshan and crossed into mainland China at the Shenzhen Bay port at 3.20pm after clearing customs.

The operator, Eternal East Bus Group Management, initially estimated the journey would take 45 minutes to reach the destination via the new 44.69 billion yuan (US$6.15 billion) route.

But heavy congestion on the Guangshen Coastal Expressway, a major route connected to the project, left the bus stuck in traffic for three hours and five minutes.

Drivers park their cars to take photos on the new link. Photo: Eugene Lee

The bus finally reached the 6km entrance tunnel of the new link in Shenzhen at 6.25pm. As the bus passed through the tunnel at 7pm, dozens of drivers were seen parking their cars in the emergency lane and taking photos on the connecting bridge.

The bus arrived in Zhongshan at 8.05pm.

Chan Kam-wai, 76, a retiree taking the bus trip with eight family members, said the worst part was seeing her grandchildren go hungry and unable to go to the bathroom for hours. “We were supposed to arrive at about 4pm to have afternoon tea in Zhongshan,” she said.



Aerial view of China’s new Shenzhen-Zhongshan mega link

Aerial view of China’s new Shenzhen-Zhongshan mega link

Chan, who paid HK$249 per person for the bus tickets and a one-night stay at a hotel, also expressed dissatisfaction over the management of the link.

“Just now a group of people parked dangerously and took photos on the roadside without anyone stopping them. It seems a bit unreasonable,” she said.

“On the first day of such a major infrastructure opening, such chaotic management is hard to accept. I don’t see any tunnel staff and traffic police to maintain order.”

Housewife Amy Yue, 50, who travelled with her son and her sister, said she would not consider bus trips to Zhongshan again.

“The destination is quite far away and sometimes bus trips are not predictable. The traffic jam alone made us waste half a day,” Yue said.

“Short trips on the mainland are nice but next time I’ll probably stick with going to Shenzhen because everything is more manageable.”

The link took seven years to build and cost 44.69 billion yuan. Photo: Eugene Lee

Lawmaker Gary Zhang Xinyu, who sits on the Legislative Council’s transport affairs panel, was also on board the bus to Zhongshan.

He said the gap between planning and the actual situation when a new transport link opened was there to see.

“It’s very obvious we haven’t found the bottleneck yet,” Zhang told the Post. “Technically, we may need to find the cause, but regardless, the impact is clearly severe.”

Lawmakers Johnny Ng Kit-chong and Michael Lee Chun-keung left Tsim Sha Tsui at 3pm by car and planned to go through the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint and use the link to Zhongshan.

However, they had to adjust their plans after encountering a major traffic jam on the Guangshen Coastal Expressway in Shenzhen 7km before the entrance of the link.

So they took the usual and longer route via the Humen Bridge and reached Zhongshan at 7pm. When they headed back later on Sunday night, they encountered traffic on the link, which was packed with vehicles heading towards Shenzhen.

Hongkongers left Kwun Tong at 2pm for a maiden trip on the link. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

Despite the inconvenience, Ng expressed confidence that such traffic jams would not be a regular occurrence in the future, believing the public would not consistently travel between the two cities at the same hours.

“The traffic jam was expected on this first day, considering the anticipation built up over many years,” Ng said.

Lee said if the link could reduce the travel time to 30 minutes as promised, more young people seeking opportunities and retirees from Hong Kong would be attracted to Zhongshan because of its lower cost of living.



Read More

Leave a Reply