New MTR line a cause for cel­e­bra­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

It goes with­out say­ing that the avail­abil­ity of speedy and punc­tual public trans­port ser­vices has a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the liveli­hoods and well-be­ing of res­i­dents in an area. The ex­cite­ment many res­i­dents of and com­muters to Hong Kong’s South­ern District demon­strated on Wed­nes­day morn­ing as the much an­tic­i­pated MTR South Is­land Line be­gan op­er­a­tions is a tes­ta­ment to this no­tion. They have ev­ery rea­son to be ex­cited about the open­ing of the South Is­land Line, which they have ea­gerly waited for nine years since the project was first con­firmed. It has had its com­ple­tion date post­poned twice.

Be­cause of the traf­fic bot­tle­neck be­tween the Cross-Har­bour Tun­nel and the Happy Val­ley area, tak­ing a bus dur­ing rush-hour road traf­fic in the morn­ing and evening is a daunt­ing task for res­i­dents of and work­ers in the South­ern District. They can eas­ily be trapped on the road for hours, es­pe­cially when a traf­fic ac­ci­dent hap­pens.

The open­ing of the South Is­land Line train ser­vice, which takes only 11 min­utes from end to end be­tween Ad­mi­ralty and South Hori­zons, of­fers com­muters in the district a re­li­able al­ter­na­tive to beat the ter­ri­ble traf­fic con­ges­tion that has been a daily ex­pe­ri­ence for them. The ag­gre­gate amount of traf­fic time to be saved, and there­fore the eco­nomic ben­e­fits to be cre­ated, could be huge, con­sid­er­ing that the new line would serve up to 170,000 pas- sen­gers per day ac­cord­ing to the es­ti­mate of MTR Cor­po­ra­tion. In­deed, some com­muters ob­served on Wed­nes­day that they saved as much as 30 min­utes by switch­ing to MTR ser­vice from bus ser­vice.

Mo­torists and other com­muters who do not take MTR trains will also ben­e­fit from the open­ing of the South­ern Is­land Line in terms of eas­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion. With the avail­abil­ity of the new rail­way line, road public trans­port ser­vices serv­ing com­muters in the South­ern District will very likely be re­duced soon in re­sponse to lower de­mand.

The Trans­port Depart­ment has in­di­cated that it would re­view around 20 bus routes for pos­si­ble re­struc­tur­ing, con­sol­i­da­tion or can­cel­la­tion within six months. That is per­fectly log­i­cal. But it must take into con­sid­er­a­tion the rea­son­able con­cern of some res­i­dents — par­tic­u­larly those liv­ing in nearby ar­eas not cov­ered by the South­ern Is­land Line sta­tions such as Aberdeen, Tin Wan, Wah Kwai and Wah Fu — that the an­tic­i­pated re­duc­tion in bus ser­vices will not cause them in­con­ve­nience or in­crease their trans­porta­tion fares.

Wed­nes­day’s open­ing of the South­ern Is­land Line, which op­er­ates a fleet of 10 three-car driver­less trains man­u­fac­tured by the CRRC Changchun Rail­way Ve­hi­cles Co, has also been hailed as a mile­stone in China’s rail­way tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment, as the line is the first in the coun­try to use do­mes­ti­cally de­vel­oped and pro­duced driver­less sub­way trains.

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