Brand-new cross­ing books busy first day

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By HE SHUSI in Zhuhai, Guang­dong hes­husi@chi­nadai­

Thou­sands of pas­sen­gers vied to be among the first to ride over the world’s long­est sea span, as the Hong KongZhuhai-Ma­cao Bridge opened for traf­fic at 9 am Wednes­day morn­ing.

Many be­gan lin­ing up to ride shut­tle buses across the bridge, de­part­ing from Hong Kong, Ma­cao and Zhuhai, Guang­dong prov­ince.

With the first sea span across the Pearl River Es­tu­ary now open, a jour­ney that used to take about four hours be­tween Hong Kong and Zhuhai or Ma­cao now takes less than an hour. One-way shut­tle bus trips cost 58 yuan ($8.35), and pas­sen­gers can also travel by cross-bound­ary coaches, pri­vate cars or taxis.

The one-way cost for pri­vate cars is 150 yuan.

By 4 pm on Wednes­day, Hong Kong Port recorded 9,994 in­bound and 12,950 out­bound trav­el­ers, the Im­mi­gra­tion De­part­ment in Hong Kong said.

In Zhuhai, the port served about 20,000 cross-bound­ary pas­sen­gers, and an­other 30,000 peo­ple came to wit­ness the his­toric day and have a first look at the brand-new bridge from Zhuhai Port, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures.

Chen Li, vice-gen­eral man­ager of the port op­er­a­tor, an af­fil­i­ate of Gree Real Es­tate, said the first day of op­er­a­tions at the port went smoothly. The port’s im­mi­gra­tion de­part­ment kept all of­fi­cers on duty so that there were suf­fi­cient coun­ters to con­duct im­mi­gra­tion clear­ance pro­ce­dures.

The port op­er­a­tor asked its par­ent com­pany to send 200 staff mem­bers as vol­un­teers to help han­dle crowds and guide pas­sen­gers at the new 327,000-square-me­ter bound­ary-cross­ing fa­cil­ity in Zhuhai, Chen said.

The vol­un­teers will stay on duty from 6 am to 10 pm un­til at least Sun­day, de­pend­ing on fu­ture pas­sen­ger vol­ume, to wel­come the first week­end af­ter the bridge’s open­ing, Chen said.

A to­tal of 800 one-way shut­tle bus jour­neys had tra­versed the bridge as of 6:30 pm, serv­ing about 30,000 pas­sen­gers, said Zhang Guangyou, chair­man of the bridge’s shut­tle bus op­er­a­tor, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Ma­cao Bridge Shut­tle Bus Co Ltd.

Zhang said the fre­quency of buses ex­ceeded the 640 trips a day pre­vi­ously re­quired by gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties to en­sure ad­e­quate ser­vice. Shut­tle buses de­parted ev­ery three min­utes dur­ing peak hours and the com­pany’s op­er­a­tion on the first day was smooth.

He said the com­pany will re­view fu­ture op­er­a­tions and op­ti­mize bus trip fre­quency for the next peak pe­riod this week­end.

Mark Clay­ton, 34, a Bri­ton liv­ing in Zhuhai, was among the 30 pas­sen­gers on the first shut­tle bus from the bridge’s Hong Kong Port to Zhuhai Port.

The bus de­parted at 9:15 am and ar­rived 40 min­utes later.

Clay­ton, a fi­nan­cial ser­vices pro­fes­sional who works at a Bri­tish man­u­fac­turer in Zhuhai, said it was an awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence and that he views the bridge as a ma­jor feat of en­gi­neer­ing.

Liu Nian, a 36-year-old travel agent in Zhuhai, took her 4-year-old daugh­ter to Hong Kong Dis­ney­land on a cross­bound­ary coach that op­er­ates on the bridge routes. “The trip is re­ally fast and com­fort­able. It’s great that Hong Kong has be­come closer to the main­land,” she said.

Miriam Zhang in Hong Kong, Li Bing­cun in Ma­cao and Kathy Zhang in Zhuhai con­trib­uted to this story.

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