Another bus biz details Macau casino link via HKZM Bridge

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Later this week, the long-awaited 34-mile sea bridge connecting mainland China to Hong Kong and Macau will finally open.

The bridge slashes through the Pearl River Estuary and reduces the travel time between Hong Kong and Zhuhai from 4 hours to 45 minutes.

The area covers 56,500 square kilometers (21,800 square miles) across southern China and encompasses 11 cities, including Hong Kong and Macau.

Supporters of the bridge promote it as an engineering marvel, while others see it as a costly political project created to further integrate Hong Kong into the mainland at a time when Beijing is tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city.

Another licensed cross-border bus service - this one branded as "Hong Kong-Macau Express" - announced over the weekend a passenger service between Kowloon, Hong Kong and several Macau casino resorts via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau (HKZM) Bridge. Most drivers will have to park at the Hong Kong port, switching to shuttle bus or special hire cars.

Members of the media take pictures on the Hong Kong side of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, October 19, 2018, days before its opening ceremony. Others say the bridge is another way for Beijing to bind the autonomous administrative regions closer to China.

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A section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HKZMB) is seen from Lantau island in Hong Kong, Oct. 7, 2018.

Built to withstand a magnitude 8 natural disaster, a super typhoon and strikes by super-sized cargo vessels, the bridge incorporates 400,000 tons of steel - 4.5 times the amount in San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

While an impressive engineering feat, the building of the bridge brought its own controversies.

The waters under the bridge are home to the Chinese white dolphin, a species whose population is seriously declining, with only 47 of them seen in the year from April 2017 to March 2018.

The opening of the high-speed rail link also sparked criticism as it saw Chinese security stationed on Hong Kong soil for the first time at the city's terminus. Hong Kong and mainland Chinese authorities have each reported nine worker deaths during the work.

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