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Maneuvering HK Public Transportation

It’s funny, in the states I couldn’t imagine life without a car and here I can’t imagine having one.  Sure, I miss listening to the radio, having that personal space and time alone and not having to worry about hauling everything with me literally on me.  That backseat… what a gift.   But, I hear the hassle of car ownership on the island outweigh the perks.  And with all the public transportation options, I don’t really feel immobile… just weighed down.

HK Escalator

Mid-Level Escalator:  Hong Kong Island is dominated by steep, hilly terrain, which requires for some rather unusual methods of transportation up and down the steep slopes.  Through the center of Hong Kong is one of my favorite methods, simply known as the escalator.  Hong Kong has the world’s longest outdoor escalator traveling over 2,600 feet from start to finish and elevating over 440 feet (that’s the equivalent to going up 44 floors of a high-rise).  If you know me, I’m sure you’re thinking Ken isn’t great with things that move, especially things that move Ken!  However, when I have the opportunity to be mobile without effort- I’m all over that!  While traveling up the escalator you’ll pass over some of my favorite areas of the city.  Areas like Central (city center at waterfront), Noho (area north of Hollywood Rd.), Soho (area south of Hollywood Rd), and the Mid-Levels (at the top where the escalator ends).  

  • Total travel time from bottom to top takes 30 minutes
  • Built in 1993
  • 80,000 travelers daily
  • Consist of 20 escalators and 3 moving sidewalks
  • Runs daily downhill from 6am to 10am
  • Runs daily uphill from 10:30 am to midnight
  • You can exit and enter on each road it passes.

MTR (Mass Transit Railway):  When I lived in Chicago I rode the Metra to get around.  In Chicago the rails are above ground with windows, but the MTR runs underground with no outside views.  When I lived in Causeway Bay, I could jump on the MTR just around the corner from my flat, ride into Central, go to the gym, grab a coffee at Starbucks, go under the harbor ending near my office and never go outside or see any views of the outdoors.  Now, don’t get me wrong, not seeing the outdoors means you don’t feel the outdoors.   Today, living in the Soho/Sheung Wan area, I rarely use the MTR.   But I like knowing it’s always available.  

There are 10 rail lines and hundreds of stops, but with the help of my iPhone app, I can plug in my current location, where I want to go and the app will guide me step by step.  Although the MTR is very reliable, you never know what the crowd will be like until you’re right smack in the middle of it.  The local people in HK have no concept of “personal space”.  After now living here, I understand why… there’s no space!  

  • Opened in 1979
  • 4.6 million travelers daily
  • System includes 131 miles of rail
  • 155 stations
  • Over 4 million trips made daily
 Trams: The most environmentally friendly means of public transpiration, the Tram is also the island’s original.  At over 100 years old, it is the only tram system in the world operating exclusively with double-decker cars, and is one on only three tram systems in the world that use double-decker cars.  Personally, I find walking faster and not tall-people friendly (I can’t stand inside the tram, which I forget all-the-time).   The Party Tram (bottom left image) can be reserved for private events.  Personal experience suggests a warning… drinking beer all night on a moving tram without a restroom can be challenging.
Filed under: Hong Kong, My Life, Travel

About the Author

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Hi. Welcome to Hong Kong… according to Ken. Me! I’m a Texas guy that now lives in Hong Kong. I left my life as I knew it, to start a new life. One filled with unfamiliar sites, languages, foods, smells, culture and people. This “leap of faith” is still leaping, but I’m beginning to see the ground beneath me. If you ever wondered what it would be like to pack your bags, say good bye to everyone you know, jump on a plane to another world- then get ready. Here’s a look at life in Hong Kong… according to Ken.

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