Most passengers stranded on MTR by typhoon have only themselves to blame

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 July, 2012, 12:00am


I was dismayed to read about the behaviour of passengers stranded on the MTR's East Rail line when Severe Typhoon Vicente battered Hong Kong and typhoon signal No 10 was raised.

Quite a few people were still out six hours after the Observatory had raised signal No 8. I can understand that some people had no choice, because they were on duty for essential or emergency services, but among the stranded passengers were families and young people. Many did not treat the No 8 signal seriously enough. They saw it as an early finish from work and decided to stay out and then catch the last train home.

Common sense tells us that during a typhoon, any form of public transport, including railways, can suspend services for safety reasons - for example, because of gale-force winds. That's why employers and schools release staff early, so they can catch public transport while it is still available. Those who decided to stay out more than five hours after the No 8 was hoisted suffered the consequences of their actions. The MTR Corporation has never claimed its services are 'typhoon-proof'.

Stranded passengers were too harsh on MTR staff who had already done their best to ensure people's safety.

Some passengers regarded the police as a taxi service to take them where they wanted to go. They probably did not know that during a typhoon, there's no third-party insurance coverage. Police and MTR staff have other priorities to deal with during a storm, and to have the stranded passengers remain at a place with shelter was the most sensible thing to do. The MTR could not take the risk and responsibility of trying to arrange transport during the No 8, 9 or 10 signals.

The MTR must take some blame for its announcement service. Nothing in the information service provided by stations tells passengers what the service levels will be during a typhoon. This leads to passengers having unrealistic expectations. The MTR Corp should consider revising its public announcements during bad weather, especially on more exposed lines such as East Rail and West Rail.

I am grateful to the MTR staff who braved the storms when the No 10 signal was up to undertake emergency repairs so the East Rail service could resume operations the following morning. Those stranded passengers should think about these dedicated MTR staff who were risking their lives.

Virginia Yue, Fanling