Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Missing the MTR

Today I really miss Hong Kong's public transportation system, namely their trains on both the MTR and KCR lines. The MTR train lines work in an interconnected fashion, so that the various lines connect to form a circle around the entirety of Hong Kong. As a result, you can pretty much get anywhere in HK using their train system, especially in conjunction with their bus and mini-bus routes. The KCR line further extends this access into the New Territories (more inland, northern region closer to the Chinese border).

The trains in HK were always air-conditioned, as were the stations. In the winter when it was cold outside, they were heated. The stations were also very secure, with hidden security cameras as well as station staff located throughout. Although there were always tons of people waiting for each train, the wait was never more than a few minutes, and if you missed one train, you could still catch the next one three minutes later. The train stations were also malls unto themselves; they contained not only a variety of shops, but bank machines where you could take out extra cash! Finally, there were no tickets to fuss with at the train station; you used a debit-like Octopus card and swiped to enter and exit the train area. The local 7-11s (of which there was nearly one on every block) were convenient locations for you to add cash to your Octopus.

In my current city, the wait for the train can be longer than 15 minutes; if you miss your train, you could be waiting a long time for the next one. As well, we have only a few limited stops to which the train will run, and it definitely doesn't cover more than the center of the city and some very northeast district of town. Furthermore, our train stations are dingy and dark, and sometimes a haven for street people who need a warm (or cool) place to lay their head. There are no shops nor bank machines in our stations. There are just an abundance of ticket-selling machines, which one has to fiddle with and then "stamp" their tickets before they can get on the train. And when/if the train guy decides to come and check on your ticket, you have to dig around and locate that stupid little piece of paper.

Overall, it's an entirely inefficient transportation system, and our town could learn a thing or two from the urban developers in HK, particularly since HK's square mileage is about twice that of our city, but its population is about 6x greater.

*sigh* Maybe I just miss HK, period. It's the beginning of their school year there as well, and I very much miss my life there as well as my students. If only Hubbs & I could have everything we want from here but be living there!!! *sniff* Just one of those days, I guess.


I still love Edmonton...really I do said...

One of the things that keeps Edmonton from being an elite city is its complete absence of *any* form of urban planning. The winters? Yeah, they're pretty bad too. However, the transit "system" here has never really moved above "ultra-shoddy" and as such, I don't necessarily think Edmonton will either. ;)

Am I being too harsh?

Anonymous said...

Good public transportation is hard to find in the United States in general in my very limited opinion. Even NYC where everyone thinks the subway is so great. My limited experience with it left much to be desired. I don't know about HK, but Paris to me has the greatest. The metro literally goes everywhere. You could get off, walk a few blocks, find another, and they all interconnect.

Chicago sucks. It's either perfect, or you have to take a train, then a bus, then walk nine blocks. Blah. I should be an urban planner.

(it's wobbly, i seriously can't comment, this is lame)

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Well, at least you can comment anonymously on my blog! I am having trouble commenting on your blog as well. What is going on with Beta Blogger?!?! You should totally email them and get them to fix this!!!!

Paris' metro sounds a lot like HK's MTR, then. And yeah, stations are *everywhere* (or else very accessible by mini-bus or taxi or bus)

wobbly said...

I'm constantly annoyed with Chicago's transit system. They want everyone to take it but it's not too convenient.

Any ideas how I can email blogger? This is ridiculous. When I first (accidentally) switched to the beta blogger I could still comment on everyone's blogs. Boooo!!


Mrs. Loquacious said...

I found some info for ya, Wobbly...but it ain't good news....


wobbly said...

Thanks, Mrs. L...Bummer dude. Did I read that right? All blogs will eventually be switched to beta? Hopefully they work out all of these horrible bugs by then :(