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Hong Kong MTR

Blind Hong Kong boy accuses city’s rail operator of not having enough disabled-friendly facilities

MTR Corporation has said it would increase volume of announcements at some stations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 May, 2017, 6:13pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 May, 2017, 9:43pm

A visually impaired 13-year-old boy has accused Hong Kong’s rail operator of lacking disabled-friendly facilities at some stations.

In a complaint filed to the city’s Equal Opportunities Commission on Tuesday, Hong Ka-lung said announcements at some MTR Light Rail stations were not loud enough and that tactile ground surface indicators – the raised yellow spots – were only located at the top of some platforms.

“I almost missed my step once last year due to the low broadcast volume on the train platform at On Ting station.” he said.

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Hong also said there were instances of Light Rail drivers not ringing their bell while passing through pedestrian intersections.

“I have filed two complaints to the MTR before, but got no solid response,” he said.

“They only replied with, ‘thank you for your suggestions’ and ‘we will improve the situation’. But I have not seen any actual measures after.”

Hong said he filed a follow-up complaint to the Transport Department and announcement volumes were temporarily raised, but then returned to original levels.

He urged the MTR Corporation to permanently increase volumes at all stations during peak hours, and install the tactile ground-surface indicators at all boarding areas across platforms.

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“This case has shown there are still a number of obstacles for people to have easy access to MTR facilities,” lawmaker Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said.

In a response letter to Hong, the MTR said it would adjust announcement levels where there was background noise, but it also had to balance volume requirements of other user groups.

As for the tactile yellow spots, it said guide paths were already installed on platforms that lead the blind to the first train carriage.

Hong has taken the MTR from his home in Tuen Mun to a school for the visually impaired in Pok Fu Lam since he was in kindergarten.

Labour party member Tam Chun-yin said Hong had approached him to help settle the matter and after inspecting several MTR stations with the boy, he found there were indeed “lots of risks” for the visually impaired.

“The MTR has admitted they do have problems in those aspects, but they did not change afterwards,” Tam said.

Government figures showed about 174,800 Hongkongers had a visual impairment 2013 – about 2.4 per cent of the city’s total population that year.

In a written response to the South China Morning Post, the MTR said it had met with Hong on Tuesday, after the complaint had been made, and discussed ways to resolve the issues raised.