PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 August, 2009, 12:00am

What do you think of the new MTR link?

Whatever possessed the MTR Corporation to create the switching nightmare at Hung Hom station ('Passenger gripes mar MTR opening', August 17)?

Instead of leaving the East Rail line alone, it now has both the East and West Rail transferring at Hung Hom just to get to East Tsim Sha Tsui, creating confusion, chaos and a bottleneck.

A check on the MTR's website shows travel time from the central New Territories increasing by 10 minutes.

My trial run from East Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday tacked on an additional 12 minutes and was exasperating.

Depending on the destination, one must either cross the platform or head up one escalator and down another to reach a separate platform.

People heading to or from Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau now have the option of wasting time at East Tsim Sha Tsui and Hung Hom, as the trains now run less frequently, or returning to being crammed like sardines on the Tsuen Wan and Tiu Keng Leng lines via Kowloon Tong.

The MTR Corp should have simply terminated the West Rail line at Hung Hom.

Passengers could still connect to the East Rail line as it was or transfer to East Tsim Sha Tsui.

Of this change, the MTR states that 'every journey you make will be easier, faster and more enjoyable'. I did not find it to be that at all.

Randall van der Woning, Tai Po

I support the new rail link. It provides another choice for the public which is always to be welcomed.

Although people have complained about being confused, I think this is common for passengers who have still to get used to the new service.

However, they will adapt. Passengers found using the Octopus card confusing at first, too.

There have also been complaints about new arrangements for shuttle bus services between stations, which puzzles me.

The MTR Corp provides mass transit railway routes, not a bus service.

Some people also complained about new fares and yet the MTR Corp still offers some discounts even though, like all of us, it has been affected by the economic downturn.

If some passengers find the fares too expensive, they can always choose to take other forms of transport.

People often forget how grateful they are that they have the option of using the MTR routes when the weather is bad or there is serious traffic congestion on the roads.

Some passengers complain they will have to do a lot of walking, but I do not think it is a bad thing to walk if you have to switch to another line.

We all have a number of transport options in Hong Kong.

Anna Au Lok-sang, Tsuen Wan

Should the shoeshiners be allowed to stay on Theatre Lane?

Lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee has been quietly campaigning on behalf of the shoeshiners in the hope that one day they will be able to apply for a licence allowing them to operate legally in Hong Kong. Thankfully they have someone with common sense on their side.

Although, strictly speaking, they are not actually breaking any laws at present, this doesn't stop them being harassed by any government department that wants to have a jab at them, usually on behalf of local building-management companies.

Developers don't show too much sympathy either; they would rather they were not there at all.

So why can't the government come up with a proposal that will resolve this issue?

Struggling for answers, guys? Well, how about this for an idea - issue licences to the shoeshiners and relocate them to a part of Central that can accommodate them, but in a place where they will still have plenty of passing trade.

The government is supposed to act for and on behalf of the people of Hong Kong, so come on guys, show some compassion, sort this matter out and save some of Hong Kong's heritage.

Andrew Maxwell, Sai Kung

Has anyone thought of incorporating the shoeshiners into the overall redevelopment at Theatre Lane?

First, the shoeshiners could continue to earn a living. Second, the public would appreciate the efforts of the developer and the government in helping to enable the shoeshiners to continue to earn a living.

Third, the redevelopment project would have a ready-made, easily recognisable theme, which would help to raise its profile.

I think the shoeshiners should be allocated an area where they can operate. This may entail the developer giving up some space, but thanks to their presence, there will be an increase in pedestrian traffic, which would include tourists.

Stephen Chung, Kwai Chung

Should the law protecting country parks be reviewed?

I think there is an urgent need to review the relevant legislation, not just because our landfills are nearing capacity, but because the population in Hong Kong is increasing.

We do not have enough land for development projects. Therefore, it would appear we only have two solutions - more reclamation of Victoria Harbour or reduce the size of our country parks.

The first option is not acceptable, so we have to review policies relating to the country parks. But at present they are protected by laws and these laws need to be looked at and clarified, so we know where we stand with these parks.

I do not want to see conflict between those who want to protect the parks and developers who need land to build on. That is why a review of the legislation is needed.

Mia Chow Hiu-nam, Yau Tong

Is enough being done to police the smoking ban?

It is impossible for the government to punish every person who chooses to flout the smoking ban. I do not think there are enough tobacco-control officers to supervise the smokers. It is impractical for the government to ask the public to report smokers. Even if someone sees an individual breaking the law in the street, by the time the officer arrives, the person may have left. I think more of these officers need to be deployed on Hong Kong's streets.

The government must also broadcast more television adverts and use them to educate people to obey the law.

Agnes Yu, Kwun Tong