Thousands of MTR commuters were stranded between Admiralty and Sheung Wan in the morning rush hour yesterday when a ventilation duct cover came loose and blocked the tunnel.
Service on the Island Line between the two stations was suspended for more than two hours from 8.10 am forcing passengers on their first day back to work after the long holiday weekend to seek alternative transport.
Taxi and bus queues swelled as throngs of people left Admiralty station. The MTR Corporation provided a free shuttle bus from Admiralty to Central and Sheung Wan until services returned to normal at 10.20am. It also advised Central-bound passengers to switch to the Tsuen Wan Line, for which Admiralty is an interchange station.
The shuttle bus queue snaked up from the station to an elevated walkway and at one stage reached the SAR government headquarters. But most passengers said the wait was not long.
"I only waited about 10 minutes in line," said a passenger about to get on a bus to Sheung Wan at about 10.15 am. The lines were gone by 10.30am.
But some passengers complained that the temporary transport arrangements were chaotic.
"There's no broadcast on radio," a woman in the bus queue said. "They should have let passengers know earlier. Otherwise, I would not have taken the MTR."
MTR Corp said the metal cover, which protruded from the tunnel wall, was on an emergency ventilation duct installed last June as part of work to connect Sheung Wan Station with the West Island Line extension. It was removed at 9.50am.
The duct provided emergency ventilation to non-passenger-carrying service trains, and would be removed when the project was completed, it said.
It apologised to passengers and said a more detailed investigation would be conducted.