PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 January, 2009, 12:00am

What do you think of the decision not to build a station at Happy Valley?

To conclude that there should be no station in Happy Valley for the MTR demonstrates that the evaluation of the cost and benefit of adding MTR stations is flawed.

Yes, based on patronage alone, Happy Valley does not generate direct financial benefits to justify the cost of building an MTR station there - even when taking into account the patronage during race meetings and the increasing number of public events at the Jockey Club.

However, aligning the South Island Line and adding a Happy Valley station at this stage of the process is the lowest-cost opportunity we have ever had to build a station there.

Once the South Island Line is in place, that option has been forfeited.

All major road junctions north, east and west of Happy Valley are heavily congested and traffic is only going to increase. This is not only because of an increase in wealth and relaxation of controls on cross-border traffic, but because of new traffic generators in Wan Chai (the Hopewell II, formally known as Mega Tower, and urban renewal projects), the south side (Ocean Park hotels, Wong Chuk Hang 'upzoning', Aberdeen Fisherman's Wharf, Wong Chuk Hang Estate redevelopment) and Causeway Bay (various developments).

And there will be more traffic given the reluctance to frustrate private redevelopment rights.

There are no opportunities to increase vehicular road capacity.

The land is simply not available to further widen roads and junctions.

There is in fact a need to improve the quality of life at street level with the widening of pavements, improving pedestrian movement and squeezing the space for cars.

Any suggestion that a rationalisation of tunnel fares or the Central-Wan Chai bypass will bring relief are misplaced.

Therefore, in calculating the benefit of a station, a high value must be placed on the ability of Happy Valley residents to use the MTR as an alternative mode of transport given the increased risk of gridlock due to an accident, event or other incident.

Given the future risk of gridlock without any reasonable relief measure at hand, an even higher value must be assigned to every single reduction in vehicular movement that an MTR station in Happy Valley can generate.

Unfortunately, that is not how our Transport Department and officials responsible for the government's finances calculate things.

Nor will it be their problem, but one for future generations to resolve.

Paul Zimmerman, founding member, Designing Hong Kong

What do you think of the plan to upgrade facilities for opera?

I do not agree with a new proposal regarding a Cantonese opera venue ('Plan to revamp community hall should Sunbeam Theatre close', January 9).

I think it would be better to keep the Sunbeam Theatre for traditional Cantonese operas.

This theatre has been a landmark in North Point.

Like the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, it is a place where art and culture are promoted. In recent years, Hong Kong people have shown a greater cultural awareness and they are concerned about how the arts scene in the city is defined and promoted.

I think the Sunbeam Theatre is an integral part of the arts scene in Hong Kong and I do not think a community hall will be a suitable venue for Cantonese opera.

Although Cantonese opera audiences have dwindled, the theatre should still be allowed to serve as a platform for people who want to watch and participate in this art form.

I think that instead of having this community hall, the Sunbeam Theatre should be adapted into a multipurpose venue. This would mean that a wider range of shows, not just Cantonese opera, could be staged.

Denise Tam, Kowloon Bay

Should the ban on smoking be delayed?

As a lifelong non-smoker I fall into the category of not minding some smoke, but dislike the 'it's my right' attitude displayed by so many smokers and at times the physical assault by smoke that you have to endure.

The ban seems to be a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but just as happens so often on the mainland, the rules may be there, however, they are rarely enforced and certainly not consistently.

This leads to resentment on both sides of the fence, smokers and non-smokers, each believing the other is being unreasonable.

Anyone caught by the smoking ban will feel aggrieved that so many others escape sanction, while the non-smokers will rightly state that their health and safety is being put at risk by smokers with little respect for decent behaviour or the law.

Is the solution trial prosecutions of smokers who assault non-smokers with fumes under criminal rules relating to 'assault with a deadly weapon' (the scientific evidence appears solid) or is that too extreme?

Certainly bars have been vocal over the loss of trade due to the smoking issue, although perhaps the effect will be less noticeable if a full ban is imposed, but is it a real solution in a 'free' society?

Perhaps the problem is exacerbated by the pressures of big business and the more open layout of many bars, clubs and restaurants in recent years.

Perhaps the solution is to split establishments, with the 'active smoking areas' paying more to compensate for the additional ventilation, and the cost of clearing the air and cleaning the curtains.

Clearly smokers have benefited from sharing these costs over the years and perhaps now is the time to redress the balance.

Nick Bilcliffe, Lamma Island

On other matters ...

I am curious as to the qualifications a business requires to be awarded a Hong Kong Quality Tourism award.

A shop at Terminal 2 of Chek Lap Kok airport has this award proudly displayed and it is the only signage in the shop in English.

The shop boasts extensive product information on a quality product but one would think it would be fairly obvious to have at least some of the information available in English at an international airport.

G. Dykes, Tung Chung

It is great to know that the financial crisis is not hitting everybody in Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, in the Great supermarket at Pacific Place, I selected six medium-sized Australian desiree potatoes. They were priced by the assistant who weighed them at a whopping HK$251 - for a bag of spuds. I quickly put them back. Then I noticed a display of Jean-Paul Gaultier Evian water retailing at HK$139 for 75 centilitres. That is HK$185 a litre, which is about 20 times the price of petrol, which has come to us from the Middle East via Singapore after complex refining and is very heavily taxed.

Presumably there are still some people able and willing to spend this sort of crazy money despite the credit crunch. But the supply must surely be wearing thin.

Mak Kin-to, Pok Fu Lam