Passengers walk through Hong Kong International Airport on July 6, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong government is working to enhance crowd management at the Hong Kong International Airport in case public transport services operation is disrupted due to adverse weather, the city’s transport and logistics chief said on Wednesday.
Lam Sai-hung said this at the Legislative Council while replying to a question on the sufferings of travelers who were stranded at the airport due to public transport disruption on Oct 9 when Typhoon Koinu hit the city.
In his question, a LegCo member pointed out that when the Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 8 and No. 9 were in force as Typhoon Koinu hit Hong Kong, over 10,000 inbound travelers were stranded at the airport for several hours, with many having to spend as long as six hours waiting for public transport services, and some taxi drivers demanding a surcharge of over HK$1,000 from passengers.
“We consider that a more effective direction of improvement is to enhance crowd management at the airport during adverse weather,” the secretary said in a written reply.
As land transport was suspended due to the hoisting of Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 9 during the strike of Typhoon Koinu earlier, some passengers had to stay at the airport.
Lam Sai-hung, Secretary for Transport and Logistics, HKSAR
The enhancement will include exploring ways to inform passengers of the typhoon and road traffic conditions as soon as possible, and making better arrangements for them to wait for the resumption of transport services at the airport terminal in a safe and comfortable manner, he said.
As some passengers may still opt for taxis during typhoons, the Airport Authority Hong Kong will allocate chips when there are a large number of passengers waiting for taxis, so that they may take rest elsewhere, without having to queue up in person, at the airport and check their waiting status through mobile phones.
The government has also requested MTR Corporation Limited – the city’s sole rail operator – to study thoroughly and cautiously the arrangements for the suspension of Airport Express under Signal No. 9, explore the feasibility of optimizing information dissemination, and review the relevant contingency plans, to minimize the impact on members of the public and visitors under the premise of safety, said Lam.
When Signal No. 8 is hoisted, both local road transport and public water transport are generally suspended for safety considerations, and the MTR provides limited railway services only. When the Signal to No. 9 or above is joisted, the MTR has to suspend its service on all open sections for safety reasons, while maintaining limited service on underground sections, the secretary explained.
“While public transport services are provided to the extent feasible, public transport operators have to weigh the risks of driving and operating during adverse weather, so as to ensure the safety of passengers, drivers, and other staff members, as well as that of the rescue personnel.”
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As land transport was suspended due to the hoisting of Signal No. 9 during Typhoon Koinu, some passengers had to stay at the airport, he added.
“If a taxi picks up passengers directly on the street or at a taxi stand on a non-booked basis, the taxi driver should charge the meter fare, and no surcharge should be charged on the passengers,” the secretary said, adding that a registered taxi owner may also hire the taxi to a hirer on a hire-as-a-whole basis.
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