What do you think of the new MTR link?
Having just returned from a two-week trip, I was very surprised to find the new arrangements at Hung Hom and Tsim Sha Tsui East.
While commuting from Fanling to Central I found total chaos at Hung Hom. Trains left to Tuen Mun from the opposite platform, customers were in total confusion and staff were standing around with signs indicating the route changes. It does not make sense to terminate the East Rail Line at Hung Hom. Why can't both lines [East and West] interchange at Tsim Sha Tsui East?
First, passengers are confused since the lines use adjacent platforms. Second, there are constant delays to the East Rail due to sharing the station with the other line - my journey is increased by an average of 10 minutes.
Previously it was possible to change from the Tsuen Wan Line to the East Rail Line at Tsim Sha Tsui. Despite a long walk, it was more convenient than taking the Tsuen Wan line then changing to the Kwun Tong line at Mong Kok and to the East Rail Line at Kowloon Tong.
Now this option is no longer available and commuters from the New Territories have to revert to the old route via Kowloon Tong. Talk about progress. Why has there never been a Fanling-Central direct train? I know this route is under development, but it will not be completed until 2019 and it will not be direct, stopping at other stations in East Kowloon.
In the meantime MTR Corporation should rethink their strategy for the East Rail line.
Cecilia Lee, Wan Chai Is enough being done to police the smoking ban?
P.A. Crush (Talkback, August 24) replying to my letter (Talkback, August 17) is wrong about the attitude of Hong Kong's finest towards smoking. I repeatedly call the police to report violations of the smoking ban.
Officers arrive, are unfailingly polite to all parties, and then, privately, tell me how much they appreciate my complaints because tobacco smoke is so offensive and causes so much damage to society.
Shop owners in Stanley Market point me towards stall holders who are smoking illegally and encourage me to make reports, because they feel the need to 'maintain good relationships' with those who pollute their air. I am happy to do so.
As to foul language on the street, I am often subjected to that - as well as having smoke deliberately blown into my face, which is a criminal offence.
Mr Crush appears to be living in the triad-controlled past when the criminals dictated how the police responded to illegal activity. I live in the present and work with the Hong Kong police to enforce the law, without first asking the criminals if they object.
Annelise Connell, Stanley
Is enough being done to improve minibus safety?
Measures have been implemented on minibuses, but you still see accidents involving speeding vehicles. I believe it is down to people's behaviour.
Many minibuses have seat belts. If there is an accident they can save lives. So why do so few passengers actually use them?
Do they find them uncomfortable or time-consuming to put on? There can be no logical reason for people not wearing something that could save their lives. If drivers asked passengers to wear seat belts, then the number of passengers who are seriously hurt would decrease.
I also find it strange that when the speedometer indicates the driver is exceeding the limit, passengers never ask him to slow down. I suppose this is because they are afraid they will end up quarrelling with the driver. However, given that their lives could be at stake they should raise objections. If one person speaks out, I am sure other passengers will join in and this will put pressure on the driver.
Minibus operators should also be urging their staff to drive safely. If more of them did so, the government would probably not have felt the need to force minibuses to install speed limiters.
If drivers slowed down and passengers made full use of the equipment now installed, that would probably be enough.
Lai Ka-fai, Kwun Tong
I believe installing speed limiters can make minibuses safer. I think we will then see fewer fatal accidents.
However, it is important to understand the main cause of so many serious accidents involving minibuses. The drivers speed because they are in competition with franchised buses and want to finish the route as quickly as possible.
What these minibus drivers need is a stable salary rather than the present arrangement - which sometimes can lead to them driving too fast.
However, the drivers are not entirely to blame for casualties when there is an accident. Often passengers fail to wear the seat belts fitted on many minibuses. And some want to get to their destinations quickly, so do not object to the driver speeding.
Jacko Chan, Ma On Shan
How can the school dropout rate be reduced?
Most students quit school because of financial difficulties. This problem has been made worse by the global financial crisis, which has hampered economic development. A lot of workers have been laid off and this can affect the budgets of families on low incomes.
Some young people will feel that they must try to relieve the financial burden their parents are facing, and so they choose to leave school and find employment. Other students struggle academically. They might not be able to get to sit their A-levels. There may be other options for these young people, such as vocational courses, but places are limited. There may be pupils who have creative abilities but they are not suited to the present education system because there is so much rote learning. As a consequence, they lag behind others and do badly in exams. They feel as if they are wasting their time and may choose to go to work instead.
I think the government must offer more assistance to students from families with financial problems. They should be allowed to continue their studies if they wish and achieve their potential.
For those students who cannot continue with A-levels, more places must be made available at vocational courses.
The education system should be adaptable so there is room for those students who may be creative, but are not good at exams.
Victor Lau Ho-yin, Kwun Tong