• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 8:47am
NewsHong Kong

MTR urged to review capacity measures to ease train crowding

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 4:06am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 4:45pm

Watch: Hong Kong's MTR at capacity during peak hours

The government has asked the MTR Corporation to study measures to ease the squeeze on rush-hour trains, most of which are near-full based on a new measure of capacity.

The Transport and Housing Bureau says changing passenger habits - including the growing use of mobile gadgets - means capacity should be calculated based on a maximum of four passengers per square metre instead of six. Options to ease the crush include operating more trains and ripping out seats.

Under the new standard, the East Rail and Tseung Kwan O lines are at maximum capacity at peak hours, up from 70 per cent under the old measure. The West Rail, Tsuen Wan, Kwun Tong and Island lines are at more than 90 per cent of capacity, with the Ma On Shan line at 80 per cent.

"Passengers ... are less willing to board a train that looks crowded even when there is room available. They prefer waiting for the next train," the bureau said in a paper to the Legislative Council yesterday. "Besides, there is an increasing number of passengers reading newspapers or using mobile devices such as tablet computers or smartphones during their trips that require more personal space."

The older standard was established in the 1980s and '90s, and the government said the new measure would be used in setting service benchmarks for all rail lines planned from now on.

The bureau said the MTR Corp would seek to increase train frequencies on the West Rail, Ma On Shan and Tseung Kwan O lines, where the signalling system can accommodate it. Trips could be added on the East Rail line, although the company previously stressed there was no more space because of signalling limitations.

Systems for other lines will be upgraded, with work on the Island, Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan and Tseung Kwan O lines expected to be complete from 2018 to 2022, allowing for a 10 per cent increase in capacity.

The corporation would also be asked to study an early-bird scheme to encourage passengers to travel earlier and the removal of seats in some compartments. The MTR has also commissioned overseas universities to study measures to ease congestion. The government believes the opening of new lines will help.

Transport capacity is a hot topic amid projections that tourist numbers will double in a decade, and complaints that the city has become overcrowded from an influx of mainland visitors.



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

One way to get the problem solved: require all govt. officials to use public transport for official business. CY can set the example and I dare say he will get much better advice from the average cabbie than he currently gets from the out of touch and clueless elites who populate his Exco! Mike Bloomberg took the subway in NYC when he was mayor (and presumably still does) and so can CY. If they fear for their safety, then they are in the wrong job.
sudo rm -f cy
Given that newspapers took up even more space than smartphones back in the day, how is it that the old standard of maximum crowdedness was 50% higher than now? Was the MTR simply pulling the 6 persons/sq. m. figure out of thin air?
MTR has become a kingdom of itself, well protected with zero competition and monitoring.
Lies, lies and more lies.
If the Tsuen Wan line carriages are at 90% during rush hour, there is something wrong with your measure of capacity. Anybody who has ever ridden those trains knows that they are at at least 200% of capacity.
What the h.e.l.l.?! I have been taking the trains since 1997 and I am always reading a book - yes, an actual old-fashioned bound book - and if that does not take the same "personal" space as a smartphone then I don't know what does. And people have always been reading newspapers in the trains as well. This is really adding insult to an injury.
Slash mainland tourist numbers in, say, half and the problem would virtually evaporate.
Well back in 1980-90 I believe there were not that much inhabitant and not that much tourists though.
I could tell that tourists are also a concern as each time there is a (mainland) public holiday there is a fair increase of tourists in the mtr and it was not peak hour.
But well, let's put the blame on a poor road traffic and infrastructure. If people were given more convenient options they would not stick together in a tube.
Something also needs to be done about the pedestrian traffic flow patterns within stations.The way it is you have folks having to cut through folks going a different direction all the time which slows things down and makes for even more congestion. Of course, no matter how many people they can get on the platform or the concourse you still have the constrained escalators which become a bottleneck as well. But the RFID card readers to take your money DO work very quick and well ;-)
MTR already has one of the highest capacities in world metros.On the original system 8 car trains and 32 trains an hour per direction cannot easily be increased. Other key issues such as platform dwell time (unloading and loading) and track layout at terminal stations, again are physical constraints which are constants. Those with long memories may recall similar complaints back in the 80's especially regarding Nathan Road. Attempts to encourage people to stagger their journies by fare incentives (Early Bird) were not at all popular! Problem resolved for a while by the construction of the Eastern Harbour Crossing and the Tung Chung Line; Only answer is more lines!
Will people just stop complaining and blaming mainland tourist numbers, they are just the easiest scape goat. Yes, some are loud and obnoxious but Chinese tourism is (quasi) controlled and every tourist is arriving legally. Let's separate loud and obnoxious from poor management.
The MTR corp has been sitting on the their ar ses watching their cash cow get plump and paying stock holders, they've just realised paying consulting firms to design pretty graphs doesn't do much. HKSAR is even worse, nothing solid has been proposed. Probably because they've stuck on trivial agendas like underground palaces, milk powder, tv licenses and abusive maid employers. God save HK!



SCMP.com Account