The “Driving on Lantau” private car quota scheme will be doubled from 9,125 to 18,250 cars per year from 1 July on what Transport Department (TD) calls “keen demand” for access to South Lantau’s closed roads.
The new quota comes on top of the roughly 23,000 Lantau Closed Road Permits (LCRPs) already dished out to residents and drivers, 65% of which are for private cars.
TD says 3,650 of the day-permits – 20% of the total – will be reserved for electric cars “to promote green transport”.
The latest increase is part of a package negotiated by TD in 2015 to increase the number of tour coaches and private cars allowed to visit Lantau “for recreational and leisure purposes”. Through that package, the Driving on Lantau quota system was introduced in February 2016, allowing an additional 25 cars into South Lantau per day on top of 40 tour coaches permitted seperately.
But the relaxing of access rules was immediately blamed for a steep rise in the number of drivers fraudulently driving on the permit-only roads, with 138 busted in the first six months of the scheme for driving with no permit.
Each Lantau household is entitled to one LCRP, but abuse is rife: just one enforcement sting last year netted 16 drivers using photocopied permits, while police last year arrested five people running a HK$128,000 scam selling fake permits.
In 2019, District Councillors urged the government to switch LCRP’s from a paper-printed permit to a “smart chip” technology to allow automatic detection of valid permits. But TD rejected the proposals, with a response District Councillor Randy Yu called “slapdash and perfunctory”.
The new Driving on Lantau quota will begin from 1 July while TD will also upgrade the application system to a ballot-based application from 1 June. Drivers can pitch their luck a month ahead of their planned road trip, with day permits awarded randomly.