Delays lead to chaos, frustration for commuters

The MTR disruption lasted six hours. Many commuters were forced to turn to alternative public transport and there were snaking queues at bus stations and taxi stands.
The MTR disruption lasted six hours. Many commuters were forced to turn to alternative public transport and there were snaking queues at bus stations and taxi stands. PHOTO: COURTESY OF TRAX CHIN
Local commuter Ivan Chan was travelling from Diamond Hill station to Quarry Bay.
Local commuter Ivan Chan was travelling from Diamond Hill station to Quarry Bay.PHOTO: COURTESY OF IVAN CHAN

HONG KONG • The MTR disruption during rush hour yesterday morning - caused by an unprecedented signalling fault - was the worst Ms Trax Chin has ever experienced on the train network.

A normal 30-minute journey from Lok Fu station - located where the 25-year-old business development executive lives - to her office in Quarry Bay turned into a frustrating four-hour trip. "I was very, very upset, and I couldn't work and I had nothing to do but stand for four hours this morning," the local said.

"The last time the MTR broke down in February or March, I was stuck in Wong Tai Sin station for about 30 minutes, but after that, the trains moved. Not today. I haven't seen this before."

She told The Straits Times that she left her house at 8.15am, waited with other upset or bewildered commuters for an hour at the station, then paid HK$3 (50 Singapore cents) or HK$4 to get out of the station so as to take the bus. The train is her only option for a direct, non-stop journey to work.

"But 10 buses went past me because they were all full, and I waited for one hour, 45 minutes for the bus," said a fuming Ms Chin.

"I have to take (service) 113 and cross over to the harbour tunnel and go to Wan Chai, and then take another bus to Quarry Bay, and then the traffic jam took 1½ hours, and I got to office at 12.30pm, so I stood for four hours."

Ms Chin said that when she finally made it to the office, it was deserted because more than half the staff were held up by the MTR disruption, which lasted six hours.

 

Hong Konger Ivan Chan, a 30-year-old commuter, was at Diamond Hill station where the scene was chaotic, with 200 to 300 passengers already waiting in line for the train at 9am.

"The passengers weren't angry, just tired of the long wait. Personally, I am not angry, but I wonder why this would happen," he said.

His half-hour ride turned into a two-hour-long trip as the train stopped for at least 10 minutes at every station. "The train would start and stop, doors would open and close, and some of the passengers felt faint so they got out when they got the chance. I saw medical personnel come to the aid of one of the passengers who wasn't feeling well," Mr Chan said.

Singaporean Priscilla Quek, 27, who works in finance, typically takes about 15 minutes to get to work in Central from Wan Chai station. She ended up opting for the tram instead.

She added that her friend took an Uber ride from Tai Koo to Central and paid HK$300, which was "crazy" as it normally costs HK$60 to HK$70.

The rail operator has offered commuters half-price fares on a selected day as compensation for yesterday's disruption.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2018, with the headline 'Delays lead to chaos, frustration for commuters'. Print Edition | Subscribe