Aerial photo taken on Oct. 24, 2018 shows the toll gate of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong Province. The bridge officially opened to traffic at 9 a.m. on Oct. 24. (Xinhua/Liang Xu)
ZHUHAI, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the world's longest cross-sea bridge, opened to public traffic at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The 55-km-long bridge connects China's southern mainland province of Guangdong with the country's two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao.
Starting on Wednesday, customs in Guangdong's Zhuhai, Hong Kong and Macao now offer round-the-clock services for customs clearance to manage traffic on the bridge.
Both cargo and passenger vehicles pulled into driveways on the bridge via the land customs of Zhuhai on Wednesday morning.
Coach services also started to link the three destinations via the Y-shaped bridge the same morning. A bus or coach departing from the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities can now reach Zhuhai in about 40 minutes.
Zhang Guilian, a resident in Zhuhai, said she often stays in Hong Kong. Traveling from city to city used to take her a number of car rides and ferry journeys, but the bridge will greatly accommodate commuters like her and cut travel time.
Li Meirui, marketing manager of Zhuhai Winkey Supply Chain Co. Ltd., said the bridge could have a radiating effect to southwest China's Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, as it connects the mainland's highway system with the international financial and transportation hubs of Hong Kong and Macao.
She predicts a 20-30 percent growth in business volume thanks to the bridge's traffic flow into Zhuhai's international logistics sector, helping to strengthen her company.
Hong Kong truck driver Choy Wen-fung had his first experience of transporting goods via Zhuhai customs before driving onto the bridge.
"All facilities are smart, such as facial and fingerprint recognition as well as infrared temperature detection. It took just one minute for a fully-loaded truck to get through customs clearance. Truck drivers no longer need to work from dawn until dusk thanks to traveling by way of the bridge," he said.
The journey between Hong Kong and Zhuhai via road used to take him nearly five hours, or a dozen hours during holidays.
Built with an investment of 126.9 billion yuan (about 18.3 billion U.S. dollars), the gigantic project consisting of a series of bridges, artificial islands and an underwater tunnel enables smoother travel that used to be separated by channels.
With the swift new route, the economic belt of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has become a financial circle that can be looped in just one hour, uniting Hong Kong's financial services, Guangdong's industrial manufacturing and Macao's entertainment industry.