The island of Hong Kong is 88.3 km2 in size including Kowloon. The population of this mega-city is approximately 1,300,000, (Census 2009). If you consider 75% of the island is rural country park, then Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
One of the bigger green areas, Tai Tam Country Park, is set high above the central skyscrapers and markets below. It is unexpectedly ideal for hiking.
An escalator runs through the heart of the city from Central, vertically to Midlevels, an expatriate residential enclave.
You can hop off at any stage along the way but it is essential to keep left and let others move past fluidly.
There are 3 other cities in the world featuring people transporters. Barcelona, Los Angeles and Medellin. Colombia’s second largest city. In each case the terrain is extremely physically demanding for any pedestrian, young or old.
Hong Kong’s escalator system hovers one level above the city streets. There are 20 hop off-connections to strategic roads and buildings. A large portion of the stretch if air-conditioned or protected from the elements.
Pedestrians use the system for commuting to work, shopping and to conveniently access bars or clubs downtown. An example is the drinking and dining hub of Staunton Street.
Here is the perfect example of how an escalator can turn an over-crowded traffic jungle into free and efficient transportation system.
At 6 am the escalator fires up for the day in a downhill direction. Religiously, switching to the opposite direction in the afternoon. It facilitates the return, at some point in the evening, to a “shoe-box” apartment. In many instances its more a swagger than a walk. That’s if you’ve been out on the town, of course!
The escalator in Hong Kong carries more than 55,000 passengers per day. It was completed in 1993 and takes a huge burden out of the peak hour traffic of the city in both the morning and evening.