February 13 2013

Up and Down in Hong Kong: The Mid-Levels Escalator Systems

The Mid-Levels Escalator Systems Hong Kong

With increasing urban density, cities are being forced to find sustainable alternative solutions to problems of transportation in urban centers. In cities like Hong Kong, where urban density remains a major issue, creative projects have dramatically changed the urban landscape.

The Mid-Levels is a residential area built on the steep slopes of Victoria Peak. It is located directly above Central, Hong Kong’s central business district. In order to improve accessibility and relieve traffic congestion, a pedestrian escalator system was built in 1993. It is the longest covered escalator system in the world, carrying users over 800 meters in distance and 135 meters in elevation. Now a tourist attraction unto itself, the escalator remains a well-traversed commuter corridor with nearly 43,000 people per day. From 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. it runs downhill, carrying residents to their jobs and errands down in Central. At 10:30 a.m. it changes direction for the rest of the day, bringing tourists and commuters up to the restaurants, shops and residences.

The streets directly surrounding the escalator have changed dramatically with an increase in foot traffic and additional commercial space. The neighbourhood is now home to trendy bars, cafés, galleries, shops and expensive housing.

The Mid-Levels Escalator Systems Hong Kong

With the seeming success of the central escalator project, urban planners have proposed the construction of several more similar projects around the Mid-Levels to improve accessibility for aging residents and to reduce traffic congestion. A series of escalators in the up and coming Sai Ying Pun district, just West of the current escalator, are almost complete. Running along Centre Street, this new series of escalators will service the mainly residential area and draw in an array of new small businesses. This area is likely to undergo a massive transformation in the coming years, especially with the completion of a metro station, slated to open in 2014.

Other escalator projects are currently in the works, including a system along Pound Lane that has drawn considerable opposition. Residents fear that gentrification of the area will push out long time residents and businesses, and will in fact do little to ease congestion.

What other creative solutions to accessibility and transportation can be found in cities? How can cities adapt to increasing density?

Credits: Photos by Molly Fremes. Data linked to sources.

Sophie Plottel

Sophie Plottel, a former GSP blogger, is a graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a minor concentration in Global Development Studies. A native of Vancouver, Canada, she is interested in the continuing efforts of cities to adapt their policies and development strategies in response to climate change. Currently pursuing a master's of science in planning at the University of Toronto, she is studying the policies of sustainable urban development in emerging cities. After living in Shanghai, China for a year, she has became actively involved in Shanghai’s emerging environmental movement and enjoyed exploring the city's vibrant and diverse streetscape.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 at 9:46 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Infrastructure, Land Use, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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3 Responses to “Up and Down in Hong Kong: The Mid-Levels Escalator Systems”

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