‘Paid Passageway Validators’ at MTR stations

There are many interchange stations on Hong Kong’s MTR, but the connection between the Tuen Ma and Tsuen Wan lines at Mei Foo has something no other MTR stations have – ‘Paid Passageway Validators’.

Mei Foo station

Most MTR stations have interchange passageways inside the paid area, and Mei Foo is no different.

Tsuen Wan line end of the transfer passageway at Mei Foo station

Once a MTR/KCR interchange station, the design of the station is rather complicated.

With parallel paid and unpaid walkways between the two halves of the station.

Enter the ‘Paid Passageway Validator’

I first discovered the Paid Passageway Validators on Chinese-language Wikipedia.

Due to the design of the station, exit G of Mei Foo station is not connected to the other unpaid areas. Residents living near exit G who want to go to Mei Foo Sun Chuen or Mount Sterling Mall either have to take pass through the paid area and be charged the minimum fare for the MTR, or detour around the station.

In 2017 the MTR added two “Paid Passageway Validators” in the station, allowing residents with Octopus cards to pass through the station paid area for free to and from any exit at Mei Foo station, as long as they tap their Octopus card and exit within 20 minutes. The gate will not be charged any fees.

A MTR media release dated 9 January 2017 describes their operation.

Installation of Paid Passageway Validators at Mei Foo Station to Provide Free Access Through Paid Area

To provide a more convenient way for customers, two Paid Passageway Validators will be put on a trial at Mei Foo Station starting from 18 January 2017, offering 20-minutes of free access for customers to move through the Mei Foo Station between different entrances and exits.

Mei Foo Station is an interchange station for Tsuen Wan Line and West Rail Line. The unpaid areas of both lines, however, are not fully connected. The installation of the validators in paid area of the West Rail Line concourse near Entrance G will provide a free access for local residents moving around the area. Customers can simply tap their Octopus on the validator and exit the paid area of the station within 20 minutes of their entry.

“We always strive for continuous improvements to provide the community with more convenient services. In view of the needs of local residents, we are introducing Paid Passageway Validators at Mei Foo Station as a trial so as to allow them to travel around the area by using the sheltered and air-conditioned connection through the paid area of the station, particularly between Entrance G and other entrances,” said Mr Alan Cheng, Head of Operating – South Region of MTR Corporation.

Station staff will be deployed to provide assistance to customers to get familiar with the new facilities in the initial period after the launch.

And this tweet shows their location in relation to the rest of the station.

And deployment elsewhere?

Central Station and Hong Kong Station are also connected by a long passageway inside the paid area, only usable by MTR passengers.

Part of the travelator link between Central and Hong Kong stations

A situation that the Central & Western District Council would like to see resolved by the provision of Paid Passageway Validators.

The MTR Corporation responded.

MTR Central Station and Hong Kong Station are among the busiest stations in the network, especially during the busy hours in the morning and evening

At that time, the passenger flow in and out of the two stations and the transfer line was very high, so the corporation must consider whether “Paid Passageway Validators” will affect the flow of people at the station, especially when using the station during peak hours, and arrangements for the evacuation of passengers in emergency situations to ensure the safety of passengers.

Currently, Central Station has a non-paid channel connecting Chater Gardens and World Wide Building. Citizens in need can use this non-paid channel to travel to and from these places. In addition, there are many pedestrians in the area flyovers are connected to major buildings, and citizens can also use these flyovers to conveniently travel between Central Station and Hong Kong Station

Whampoa station also has two separate sets of exits, only connected via the platform.

Leading the Kowloon City District Council to make a similar request for Paid Passageway Validators.

The Hon Starry Lee hoped that MTRCL would install Paid Passageway Validators at all lobbies not linked together at the station and included it as an established policy.

Ms Yeung Lee-wah, Public Relations Manager – External Affairs of MTR Corporation Limited reply as follows: Mei Foo Station was a major interchange station of Tsuen Wan Line and West Rail Line. The unpaid area of the two lines were not linked. In considering enhancement of station facilities, the company needed to take into account whether the facilities would affect the flow of passengers and the evacuation of passengers in emergencies in order to ensure safety of passengers. The company would need to monitor the usage situation and then conduct a review. At present, it did not have any plan to install the same facility at other station. As a matter of fact, the two exits of Whampoa Station were close to each other and passengers could use above-ground facilities to commute between various exits;

The Hon Starry Lee understood that MTRCL needed to review the effectiveness of the Paid Passageway Validators run on trial basis before making a decision on whether to install the same facilities at other stations with non-linking lobbies. She hoped that after reviewing its effectiveness, MTRCL could take the initiative to install Paid Passageway Validators at all non-linking lobbies.

Mr Ho Hin-ming opined that it was not reasonable that the decision of not to install Paid Passageway Validators at the station was made just because of passengers of Whampoa Station could use other exits on the road surface. In addition, he enquired how long it would take MTRCL to study the pedestrian flow of Whampoa Station in order to determine the installation of Paid Passageway Validators.

Mr Admond Yue said that as a public organisation, MTRCL should follow sound advice and proactively consider the installation of Paid Passageway Validators at Whampoa Station to facilitate the use of passengers.

Mr Siu Leong-sing enquired when the trial scheme of Paid Passageway Validators installed at Mei Foo Station would finish.

Ms Lilian YEUNG of MTR Corporation Limited noted Members’ opinions that in enhancing the facilities of other MTR Stations, Paid Passageway Validators shall be installed at the non-linking lobbies of other stations. She would relay Members’ opinions to departments concerned.

And the opposite situation

East Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui stations have the opposite situation to Mei Foo – the only connection is via the unpaid area.

Moving walkways in the corridor linking East Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui stations

Which saw special ticketing rules out in place to prevent interchange passengers from being overcharged.

Touchscreen MTR single journey ticket machine

Further reading

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