Better transport options needed to make culture hub accessible

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 April, 2011, 12:00am


While it is encouraging to see that no effort has been spared in producing a 'green' environment for the proposed West Kowloon development ('Foster eyes zero emissions for West Kowloon', March 28) it is unfortunate that apparently little thought has been given to providing attractive public transport connections both to and within the arts hub.

At least the proposed 'eco-bus' is a significant improvement over the original proposal where visitors were expected to walk from the nearby MTR stations, a round trip exceeding three kilometres. But hybrid buses still require a diesel generator to provide power for at least part of the journey and present designs are for small, single-deck buses with limited seating capacity.

These vehicles would be totally unsuitable for moving large crowds of theatre or concert-goers at the end of a performance.

The plan provides for bus terminals, feeding each end of an overhead people-mover, plus a third one in the middle. Duplication of the internal transport services will involve intrusive infrastructure (lay-bys and turning circles at the terminals) even though they are located on the northern and western peripheries of the new development.

The bus routes will operate on existing roads, which are likely to be heavily congested during peak periods unless additional bus lanes are provided.

Not enough attention has been given to the use of public transport, both to and within the facility, by young families (with pushchairs) and elderly people, who are likely to form a majority of the visitors.

These people would prefer transportation at ground level without a mode change. Interchanges between buses and an overhead people-mover (requiring the provision of lifts) would be extremely inconvenient and expensive.

The most appropriate transit to West Kowloon would be a light rail system, which could provide a direct service to the hub from several MTR stations and the Star Ferry terminus.

Dedicated lanes (for use by bus and rail vehicles) would be required through several Tsim Sha Tsui streets and this would also have a positive effect on present traffic flows, such as the prevention of double-parking.

The main advantage of a light rail system is that it could continue through the arts hub at ground level without the need for any interchanges or overhead structures. Stations (simple covered platforms) could be located at ground level with the railway connecting them located in shallow cuttings or short tunnels so that it would remain unobtrusive.

The latest light rail vehicles allow for access from low-level platforms without steps and are therefore ideal for those using pushchairs and wheelchairs.

These vehicles are well-established in many European cities and require no expensive infrastructure.

They are all electric, can carry more than 300 passengers (200 seated) and would be an additional incentive to travel to West Kowloon.

Michael Baxter, Tuen Mun