Public transport not always viable option
Rachel Stern, in her letter to these columns on November 4, bemoans the fact that visitors to country parks are too few, and at the same time opposes the provision of more parking spaces, arguing that public transport to the parks is adequate. In fact, adequacy depends very much on where you are coming from, where you are going to, and how many of you there are.
Public transport is not always adequate.
Many starting points for walks are served only by light buses of limited frequency whose route might take you far out of your way. One example among many is the northern end of Pat Sin Leng Country Park where the Lau Shui Heung and Hok Tau reservoirs are situated.
Only one light bus route goes anywhere near them. Hikers with a lot of time might discover the stop, and wait for the bus. But your average park visitor probably has only half a day free, and does not want to spend a lot of time getting to and from the park. He would prefer to be in the park.
And what about people with families? Marshalling a family on and off trains and buses, and keeping patient while waiting, is not much fun, especially if you find the bus is full when it arrives.
The obvious preference is to take the car. But where to park it? Some country parks have adjacent car parks. The one at Ma On Shan village is adequate and pleasant, not being concreted over. That example should be followed.
Parking places elsewhere have been restricted. The ones at Lau Shui Heung reservoir were cancelled some years ago. The reason given was something about leaving unimpeded access to Water Supplies Department vehicles, which in view of their rare passage was not a very good one.
At weekends there is congestion of parked cars before the road barrier on the approach to the reservoir. Until a proper car park is provided, that congestion could be alleviated by moving the barrier a few hundred yards further up the road, where there are wide grass verges.
Sadly, however, we have come not to expect common sense from our civil servants.
We now live in the age of the private car.
If we want families to visit the remoter country parks, which is a treat they should be able to enjoy, then we should cater more, not less, for the car.
If that is done with discretion, nothing need be spoiled.
I refer to the letter from Tim Ho headlined 'Tai Tam parking problem' (Sunday Morning Post, October 28).
Visitors can take bus routes No 6, 61, 63 and 66 and alight at Wong Nai Chung Gap Road near its junction with Tai Tam Reservoir Road to reach Tai Tam Country Park, which is a 500m walk. Alternatively, motorists can park their cars at Park Place or Hong Kong Parkview. Both have hourly parking.
In view of the geographical constraints, further extension of the existing car park would not be feasible due to economic and environmental considerations.
C. C. LI
for Commissioner for Transport