Hong Kong’s on the move

Last week, we reported about the cable car as a mobility solution in hilly cities. Its success can be appreciated in South America, especially in Caracas and Medellin. When it comes to overcoming mobility problems due to complicated terrain conditions, one city, however, stands out in particular: Hong Kong. Seven million inhabitants cramped into an area the size of Tahiti live on a peninsula bounded by more than 200 islands. Further, this setting is embraced by wide and rounded hills. Nonetheless, Hong Kong’s government reports over 12 million passenger journeys every single day. Thus, 90% of all journeys are made by public transport. The highest rate of any city in the world.[1]

Hong Kong and its public transport

But how does Hong Kong do it? Does Hong Kong run the ultimate high-tech transport machine? Or are there secret, driver-less, fast and ultra-light magnetic levitation trains speeding under the soil? No, none of the above. The answer is: diversity. For every man and woman there is a public transport mean tailored to their needs, so it seems. Hong Kong runs a mass transit railway, tramways, a funicular railway system, and boundary-crossing trains. But these are only all your options if you want to see the city on rails. You could also take one of the hundreds of buses from one of five franchised bus companies or go by one of the dozens of smaller public light buses (also known as maxi cabs or minibuses).[2] Sometimes, you will need to change islands because as mentioned above Hong Kong does have a couple. The famous Victoria Harbour, established by the British during colonial times, lies in the middle of the dense urban area. The harbour has become the trademark of Hong Kong’s rise to an economic trading hub. Consequently, the harbour’s modern infrastructure is home to many ferry services, which connect the entire peninsula.

This is all very good then, especially because public transport in Hong Kong is very efficient and affordable no matter whether on rails, streets, or water. But how do Hong Kongers move up and down the steepness of its urban environment? They also have two cable car lines but they came up with a more “outside of the box” solution. They called it the Central-Mid-levels escalators, the kind of moving band you find in airports to cut long distances short. With 800 metres in length and a total vertical climb of 135 metres, the Central-Mid-levels escalators is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world.

Hong Kong depends on its public transport system

So, what we are presented with is an Asian megacity but there seems to be something special about Hong Kong. Instead of congestion and stagnation this city exerts free movement and speed. It’s because Hong Kong is a wealthy city. Built on China’s communist shores and shaped by British/Western trading expertise, Hong Kong has become the epitome of successful capitalism in Asia. And this is visible primarily by the clever implementation of public transport means. It is said that Hong Kong is always changing, an ultra-dynamic city fuelled by its inhabitants’ movements.


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