Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Blame Game

Trying to get onto the train during rush hour at Admiralty MTR station
A Hong Kong government adviser is trying his hand at spin doctoring and make it look like local workers, not mainland tourists, are to blame for overcrowding in MTR trains.

Executive councillor Cheung Chi-kong says it's due to the city's record number of workers. "People complain that mainland travellers are making our traffic very busy. But the major reason is that the number of employees [in Hong Kong] has risen by more than 100,000 over the past two years," he said.

Cheung added those who blame mainland tourists for the crowded trains were reaching the "wrong conclusion".

The MTR is pretty much packed during peak hours
Hong Kong's unemployment rate is at 3.1 percent because to pay for rent, mortgages, food on the table and so on, we all need to earn an income somehow... but still the MTR was never this packed before.

According to government documents, during peak morning hours, the East Rail and Tseung Kwan O lines are at full capacity, while the West Rail is at 99 percent, and Tsuen Wan lines at 98 percent. Island and Kwun Tong lines are at more than 90 percent capacity.

The government has urged the MTR to reintroduce concessions for travel before peak hours to ease congestion. Or maybe the company is too busy trying to figure out why there are so many delays in its infrastructure projects that it can't focus on overcrowding at the moment.

However, Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai said Cheung was ignoring the fact that the increased number of people moving around the city was because of the individual visit scheme.

Commerce and Economic Development Secretary Greg So Kam-leung has projected 70 million visitors by 2017, 100 million in 2023.

He made an insensitive comment demonstrating how out of touch he was with what's really going on underground by saying, "Some passengers may not be able to board the MTR and would have to wait for the next train." When was the last time he took the MTR during rush hour, or ever?

While Wu said many workers did travel south to work, the impact of visitors cannot be ignored.

"It's the common mindset of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's supporters," Wu said. "They think mainland visitors bring only benefits to Hong Kong,"

Cheung's comments are not going to fly with Hong Kong people. Mainland tourists want to save as much money as possible for shopping which means taking public transport and the MTR is the number one choice to zip around the city.

Perhaps he'd like to revise his reasons why MTR trains are so overcrowded these days?


  1. When I'm on vacation, I make it a point to avoid travelling on public transportation during peak hours. If only the (mainland) tourists to Hong Kong would do this. This way, they could make travelling on the MTR, etc. more pleasant for us and them.

    1. HI YTSL -- Well... they want to make the most of their time here so they are already shopping at 10am and they usually eat lunch and dinner early so... that's why it's always packed!

    2. I like making the most of my time when I'm on vacation too! It's just that I try not to be a nuisance as well!!

    3. Then you're one of the more thoughtful people! For mainlanders they are so used to being crowded in cities that they think it's normal!