Despite the minor issue of a tropical cyclone bearing down on western Guangdong province (“its threat to Hong Kong still exists”, asserts the Hong Kong Observatory, in that classically anodyne yet ominous lingua franca of meteorologists everywhere), Gordon Price’s tour of Hong Kong continues.
Day 3 musings cover backstreet hidden gems, demographics on display, trees, and a Hong Kong “of course” — transit. Over 90% of the population makes use of the public transportation system.
How did this happen? For starters, they built it. And they had to — Hong Kong has virtually the same geographic area as Metro Vancouver, but almost three times the population.
Also with approximately 317, Hong Kong has the most skyscrapers in the world. That’s 25% more than New York City.
1 – Rush hour in HK: the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator. Actually a combo of moving walkways, escalators and adjacent stairs, the quarter-century-old system probably now carries close to a hundred thousand people nearly a kilometre up 135 metres of elevation. It’s the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world. Tourists love it. I sure did.
The escalator was meant to relieve traffic congestion due to the lack of roads up the steep slopes. Guess what? It didn’t – vehicles, trucks especially, still fill the streets. Induced demand in action – though pressure on transit was relieved. But the escalator did contribute to the development of the SoHo entertainment district as restaurants and bars clustered along the route. What was once considered a white elephant, given the cost overruns, is now called one of the coolest commutes in the world, indivisible from the HK identity
While the average age of those in Hong Kong and Vancouver is about the same – 40 years – the presence of youth in the central area and on the MTR seems greater. In other words, the ones that are filling the work force. Or how about this: of the half million Hong Kongers who live in adjacent Guangdong Province in China, where the jobs are more plentiful and the housing cheaper, 42 percent are younger than 15. Just confirming what a demographer told me in the 1990s: the future of the world will be found in the south (Africa, Central and South America) and the east. And they will be brown, educated and mobile.