Date
30 April 2017
In one of the outages that hit the MTR, commuters wait for trains in the dark. The outage in Choi Hung station on Monday disrupted services for more than two hours. Photo: RTHK
In one of the outages that hit the MTR, commuters wait for trains in the dark. The outage in Choi Hung station on Monday disrupted services for more than two hours. Photo: RTHK

I was stuck, but not too sad, in the MTR chaos

You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry. Likewise, you don’t know how important the MTR is until it stops working.

Like many of us who work or live in east Kowloon, I got stranded in Kwun Tong Monday night when there was no train service available to Kowloon Tong at the peak of the evening rush hour when people were rushing home for dinner.

In hindsight, I could not help feeling lucky even if I was stuck in a crowd that was hit by an unexpected power outage in Choi Hung station, resulting in a 2.5-hour disruption that spoiled a wonderful night for many.

It was not too bad for me. Originally, I had a dinner appointment in Yau Tong with a friend who works in Kowloon Bay.

After learning there was no service at her work station, I decided to go to Kowloon Bay but could only make it to Kwun Tong.

Despite being just two stations apart, the two of us, along with thousands of other people, were completely clueless about where to go.

Many people queued up in bus stops and the buses were all full.

Other modes of transport were possible in the early stage but one had to jump on them quickly. Because if you missed, chances are you will pay more.

Taxis, like Uber, offer a much higher rate due to demand seasonality. But taxis, like bankers who take your umbrella when it rains, are notorious for overcharging customers for up to hundreds in a single ride.

Minivans were no better. The driver doubled the price to HK$20 from HK$10 for a normal half-hour ride.

Honestly, Hong Kong people know best how to maximize profit at someone’s expense – be they on transport or hospital – but we survive.

I came up with a cost-saving option – walking. I proposed to meet my friend at the famous Tsui Wah headquarters across from the Hong Kong Economic Journal offices – and the mid-point between us.

We met and sat down for an enjoyable and free dinner (Congratulations, Amy for surviving your probation!) just before 8 p.m.

This was the second time I got stuck in a train but I learned something from the last experience.

Two years ago, I experienced the worst subway strike in 13 years in London where I could not find a cab to the hotel after watching an East End show.

I was, still am, very impressed by the Londoners who took time to walk rather peacefully as if it was a normal day because I knew – and wrote about it – that Hong Kong people would ask Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to resign if the MTR stopped for just two hours.

It did not happen as I predicted yesterday because we know Leung will step down anyway in three months. But perhaps we can show we are a better city by being more creative and showing more initiative in times of adversity.

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RC/BK/RA

EJ Insight writer

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