Improved boarding facilities

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 June, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 June, 1995, 12:00am

A NUMBER of your correspondents have written to these columns regarding the new Outlying Islands ferry piers at Central.

Regarding pier No 1, the relocation of the Lamma Island ferry services to the new pier No 1 is to facilitate the Central Reclamation Project Phase 1.

There are insufficient berthing places at the new Central piers 6 and 7 to cope with all new town and Outlying Islands services.

When pier 5 is completed in September, the Lamma Island service may be relocated to piers 5, 6, or 7, subject to further investigation.

Meanwhile our company has tried its best to improve the boarding facilities of the pontoon. The installation of a cargo ramp was completed on May 12 on the pontoon to facilitate the boarding of trolleys and strollers on to the ferries.

Since pier 1 is located almost in mid-channel, the stability of the pontoon may be affected by the fluctuating sea conditions.

As a result, some elderly and handicapped passengers may have difficulties in boarding and alighting the ferries, especially when sea conditions are rough.

To further improve the boarding facilities and ensure the safety of passengers, a boarding ramp has been installed at the side of the pontoon. Passengers can now board and alight the vessel more easily as the present ramp is more stable than the former one. Sinkers and chains have been placed to improve the stability of the pontoon.

Most important of all, our company has deployed additional staff to assist passengers in boarding and alighting the pontoon. Passengers are also welcome to seek assistance from our pier staff at all times.

Passengers' safety has always been our main concern. During the period of a typhoon, suspension of the ferry service will depend on the actual weather condition rather than the number of the typhoon signal hoisted.

When the weather and sea conditions deteriorate and affect the safety of navigation or passengers on board, our company will suspend the ferry service.

If ferry services are affected by weather conditions, advance notices will be made to passengers as early as possible. Announcements will be made at ferry piers and through the media.

Regarding the stability of pier 7, it has been designed to move in order to absorb the energy from a ferry as it berths.

The pier is supported on 57 large diameter concrete piles founded on solid rock at approximately 40m below the seabed. The measured displacement at pier 7 due to a berthing ferry is typically two to five millimetres.

Nevertheless, our company has employed a vibration consultant from London to investigate the possibility of modifying the fendering system to reduce the movement of the pier structure to a level that cannot be detected by most people, in an effort to further increase the comfort of our waiting passengers.

The pier has been designed to accommodate the forces from berthing ferries and a full stability analysis has been carried out for the pier.

One reader complained about the late departure of the 8am service from Yung Shue Wan to Central. We have instructed the pier staff at Yung Shue Wan to close the gate on time to ensure the ferry can depart according to the scheduled time. Meanwhile, we urge passengers to be more self-disciplined and arrive at the pier before the departure time in order not to cause any inconvenience to other passengers.

JENNE SENG Corporate Communications Manager Hong Kong Ferry (Holdings) Co Ltd.