Bin night in Hong Kong

Time to take out the rubbish.

'Stop Illegal Dumping - Someone is Watching' banner and CCTV cameras beside a rubbish bin on Hollywood Road

It all starts with a bin.

Hong Kong's distinctive round rubbish bins

Until it gets full.

Overflowing rubbish bin on Nathan Road

Time to empty it.

Cleaner emptying a street rubbish bin

And walk down the street.

Pushing a trolley loaded with rubbish down Nathan Road

Until you reach the refuse collection point.

Parkes Street Refuse Collection Point

The rubbish is transferred into a truck.

UD Trucks rubbish truck in Hong Kong

And driven to a transfer station.

Rubbish trucks lined up at the West Kowloon Refuse Transfer Station

Located by the water.

Island West Transfer Station on Hong Kong Island

The rubbish is compacted into containers.

'Mo Sing Leng' being loaded with more rubbish at the Island West Transfer Station

Then loaded onto a ship.

'Mo Sing Leng' loading rubbish at the Island West Transfer Station

Setting sail.

Loaded waste transfer vessel 'Nim Wan' off Hong Kong Island

Leaving urban Hong Kong behind.

Loaded waste transfer vessel 'Nim Wan' off Hong Kong Island

On their way to the New Territories.

Loaded waste transfer vessel 'Nim Wan' off Hong Kong Island

Where the containers of waste are unloaded, then dumped into landfill.

On transfer stations

The transporting of waste in bulk from transfer stations to landfill has has greatly reduced the number of road vehicle movements previously associated with collecting refuse around Hong Kong.

Today the Environmental Protection Department operates thirteen waste transfer stations – four large faculties serving urban Hong Kong and serviced by ship.

  • Island East Transfer Station
  • Island West Transfer Station
  • North Lantau Transfer Station
  • West Kowloon Transfer Station

Six smaller facilities on Outlying Islands.

  • Mui Wo, Lantau Island
  • Peng Chau
  • Hei Ling Chau
  • Cheung Chau
  • Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island
  • Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island
  • Ma Wan

And two transfer stations that transport outgoing waste by road by road.

  • North West New Territories Transfer Station
  • Shatin Transfer Station

Waste transfer vessels

“Ngon Shuen” and “Lai Wan” are the largest waste transfer vessels, serving the West Kowloon Transfer Station.

  • 210 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) capacity
  • 4505 tonnes deadweight
  • 95 metres long
  • 20.83 meters wide
  • 4.4 meters draught

Next are “Chai Wan”, “Nim Wan”, “Tsing Chau” and “Mo Sing Leng” which serve the Hong Kong Island and North Lantau transfer stations.

  • 95 TEU capacity
  • 1763 tonnes deadweight
  • 69.2 meters metres long
  • 18.17 meters wide
  • 3 meters draught

And finally, “Yung Shue Wan” and “Mui Wo” are two small vessels to serve the Outlying Island transfer stations.

  • 29 TEU capacity
  • 659 tonnes deadweight
  • 43 meters long
  • 15 metres wide
  • 2.4 metres draught

And landfills

Hong Kong operates three “Strategic Landfill” sites.

  • West New Territories (WENT) Landfill at Tuen Mun – receives waste by sea and by road.
  • North East New Territories (NENT) Landfill at Ta Kwu Ling – only served by road.
  • South East New Territories (SENT) Landfill at Tseung Kwan O – only accepts constructions waste due to odour complains, and is served by road.

Further reading

Footnote: sludge ships

The Drainage Services Department also operates waste disposal vessels – “Clean Harbour 1” and “Clean Harbour 2”.

They transport sludge from the Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works (SCISTW) to a treatment facility in Tuen Mun for processing and disposal.

  • 50 TEU capacity
  • 2176 tonne deadweight
  • 69.9 metres long
  • 17.5 metres wide
  • 3 meters draught
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Mobile libraries in Hong Kong

On my visit to Outlying Islands of Hong Kong I found something new – a banner promoting the mobile library service that visits the village of Yung Shue Wan.

Banner promoting the bookmobile to Yung Shue Wan

But on the densely populated streets of Kowloon I found another bookmobile doing the rounds – so why not just build a normal library?

Mobile library headed through the busy streets of Jordan

Turns out Hong Kong had a late start on the library front – the first public library didn’t open until 1962 at City Hall, followed by the first library on the Kowloon side in 1965, the first in the New Territories in 1974, and the first mobile library in 1976.

Today the Hong Kong Public Libraries manages a network of 70 libraries across the territory, along with 12 mobile libraries which stop at 113 different locations.

They’ve also introduced book drop chutes at MTR stations – at
Central, Kowloon Tong and Nam Cheong Stations.

Hong Kong Public Library book drop at Central Station

And commenced a trial of “Self-service Library Stations” that offer a limited selection of books 24/7.

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Switching from left to right on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

Traffic in Hong Kong and Macau drive on the left, while vehicles in mainland China drive on the right – so what side does traffic on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge travel on?

Entrance to the immersed tube tunnel on the Hong Kong end of the bridge

The answer – on the right side, just like mainland China.

Link road on Chek Lap Kok connects the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

But the road signs on the Hong Kong side of the bridge are just the rest of the city – English and traditional Chinese text, but with ‘left’ and ‘right’ switched around.

Hong Kong-style 'Keep Right Unless Overtaking' sign on the bridge, but driving on the Mainland side of the road

The transition to mainland China-style road signs with simplified Chinese text occurring at the border itself.

Swapping left and right

A swap from left to right hand driving at the Hong Kong – China border was considered incredibly disruptive.

Legislative Council paper CB(4)653/16-17(01)

As the fast and slow lanes crossed over.

The Main Bridge, located in Mainland waters, will adopt the Mainland’s right-driving arrangement which is different from the left-driving arrangement of Hong Kong.

The connection point of the Main Bridge and the Hong Kong Link Road (HKLR) is an expressway with a speed limit of 100 km per hour. If the left-driving arrangement is changed to right-driving arrangement at the connection point, this would mean that vehicles (mainly medium and heavy vehicles) using the left-most lane (i.e. commonly known as “slow lane”) on the HKLR would need to switch to the right-most lane of the Main Bridge, or vehicles using the right-most lane (i.e. commonly known as “fast lane”) of the HKLR would need to switch to the left-most lane of the Main Bridge. In other words, vehicles would need to change lanes while moving at high speed and hence posing road safety problem.

So it was decided to move the transition location to the border crossing facility in Hong Kong.

To reduce the need for changing lanes and to ensure road safety, the HKLR that connects with the Main Bridge (including the Scenic Hill Tunnel) will adopt the right-driving arrangement. There will be suitable road facilities to the north of the vehicle clearance plaza at the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF) to ensure safe interface of the left-driving arrangement and the right-driving arrangement.

Located on an artificial island off Lantau Island.

Where a tangle of flyover ramps was provided to separate the conflicting movements.

Transport Department diagram

Along with signage indicating which side of the road to drive on.

Legislative changes

Changes to Hong Kong’s road rules were also required make driving on the right legal.

Pursuant to existing legislation relating to government tunnels, all buses, vehicles carrying dangerous goods, vehicles required to obtain a permit, as well as medium and heavy vehicles have to use the left-most lane of a government tunnel. We will add and amend existing provisions specifying that such vehicles in a right-driving government tunnel can only use the right-most lane.

Existing legislation related to traffic regulation contains references to “right turn”, “left side of a continuous white line with a broken line” and “left edge of a carriageway” in relation to box junction, double white line and road stud. We will add and amend existing provisions and revise the references to “left” and “right” so as to set out the requirements on box junction, double white line and road stud for right-driving roads.

Currently, vehicles on expressways are subject to restrictions on traffic directions, lanes that should be used by vehicles, lanes that can be used for overtaking, and the types of vehicles being prohibited from using the right-most lane. We will add and amend the existing provisions of the Road Traffic (Expressway) Regulations (Cap. 374Q) to revise the references to “left” and “right” so as to set out the requirements on traffic directions, lanes that should be used by vehicles, lanes that can be used for overtaking, and the types of vehicles being prohibited from using the left-most lane for right-driving expressways.

Footnote: plenty of objections

Turns out there were a number of objections from members of the Legislative Council regarding the introduction of right hand driving into Hong Kong.

Given that Hong Kong Link Road (HKLR) would be in Hong Kong waters, members queried about the rationales for adopting the right-driving arrangement on HKLR. Members expressed concern that this arrangement would cause inconvenience to Hong Kong drivers, who might also inadvertently fall foul of the law under this arrangement.

Some asking why a bridge linking two left hand drive countries should operate as right hand drive.

Mr Kwong Chun-yu pointed out that as both Hong Kong and Macao adopted the left-driving arrangement, drivers travelling between Hong Kong and Macao across the Main Bridge would need to change from the left-driving arrangement to right-driving arrangement on the Main Bridge, and then change back to the left-driving arrangement in Hong Kong/Macao.

Mr Kwong and other members including Mr Andrew Wan, Dr Cheng Chung-tai, Mr Jeremy Tam and Mr Nathan Law queried why left-driving arrangement was not adopted on the Main Bridge to bring convenience to drivers of Hong Kong and Macao. They enquired whether the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“SAR”) Government had ever explored with the Mainland authorities on the option of adopting left-driving arrangement on the Main Bridge.

Mr Jeremy Tam and Mr Nathan Law further suggested that if the left-driving arrangement was to be adopted on the Main Bridge, the switching between left-driving and right-driving arrangements could take place at the Zhuhai Boundary Crossing Facilities.

Specially given existing cross-border bridges from Hong Kong to China were left hand drive.

Miss Tanya Chan has pointed out that of the existing land-based boundary control points between Hong Kong and Guangdong, left-driving arrangement is adopted on the bridges straddling across Sha Tau Kok River and Shenzhen River at the Sha Tau Kok, Man Kam To and Lok Ma Chau boundary control points. The left-driving arrangement is also adopted along the Shenzhen Bay Bridge (“SBB”).

And that part of the bridge was located on Hong Kong territory.

The Deputy Chairman Dr Hon Kwok Ka-ki expressed grave concern about the adoption of the right-driving arrangement on HKLR, which in his view would undermine the principle of “One country, two systems”, given that HKLR was located in Hong Kong waters.

He was disappointed that the Administration had not revealed this proposal when it sought funding approval in respect of HZMB and related local projects from the Legislative Council (“LegCo”) in the past, and he was unconvinced by the Administration’s explanation about the technical constraints on the switching of driving arrangements at the boundary between the Mainland and Hong Kong.

Ms Claudia Mo further asked if the technical constraints on the switching of driving arrangements at the boundary were due to a design fault of HZMB or a lack of careful consideration at the design stage.

The response.

The Under Secretary for Transport and Housing explained that as it was located in the Mainland waters and was within the Mainland jurisdiction, right-driving arrangement was adopted under the territoriality principle.

With examples given of similar arrangements in other countries.

Members have also noted that the interface of left-driving and right-driving arrangements at boundary control points but not at the boundary connection point is not without precedent.

The Administration has given the examples of the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge and the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge as illustration.

Road facilities for switching between the left-driving and right-driving arrangements are located in the vicinity of the boundary crossing facilities in Lao and Thailand respectively, and there is no switching facility at the boundary connection point on the two bridges.

But the objections didn’t go anywhere – “Road Traffic (Expressway) (Amendment) Regulation 2017 (L.N. 64)” came into operation on 15 December 2017, and the bridge opened to right hand drive traffic on 24 October 2018.

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U-turns on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge links Hong Kong to Macau and Mainland China – and u-turns are prohibited along the entire 35-minute 55-kilometre long journey across it! However in an emergency you don’t need to drive in reverse to get back home – provisions have been made for vehicles to turn around mid-journey.

Entrance to the immersed tube tunnel on the Hong Kong end of the bridge

Flyovers at San Shek Wan

I first spotted the San Shek Wan ‘grade-separated turnaround facility’ on a flight into Hong Kong.

Grade-separated turnaround facility spans the viaduct at San Shek Wan

From water level it is a tangle of freeway ramps.

Grade-separated turnaround facility spans the viaduct at San Shek Wan

Located just off the shores of Lantau Island.

Grade-separated turnaround facility spans the viaduct at San Shek Wan

Next door to Hong Kong International Airport.

Bouygues Construction photo

Just before the bridge heads out to sea.

Arup photo

Ramps rise above the main traffic lanes.

Grade-separated turnaround facility spans the viaduct at San Shek Wan

Then pass over the top.

Grade-separated turnaround facility spans the viaduct at San Shek Wan

Allowing vehicles to change to the opposite carriageway.

Grade-separated turnaround facility spans the viaduct at San Shek Wan

Located between piers P53 and P59, the structure is described as:

A grade-separated turnaround facility near San Shek Wan comprised of slip roads in the form of single-lane viaducts bifurcates from the Hong Kong Link Road mainline carriageways forming an elevated junction above. It consists of 6-span continuous mainline deck integrated with 2 ramps. A smaller box section of 9m wide was deployed for the ramps.

The interchange is normally closed to traffic.

KMBS3V20 Studio

But the Hong Kong Government has explained why it exists.

For proper maintenance of the HZMB and speedy handling of accidents or other emergency situations, both Hong Kong and Mainland governments may deploy maintenance and emergency rescue vehicles for carrying out duties on the HZMB. The spokesman stressed that the vehicles concerned shall not be driven on a road in Hong Kong other than the Hong Kong Link Road of the HZMB. They shall return to the Mainland via the turnaround on the Hong Kong Link Road near San Shek Wan upon reaching that turnaround, except where the ambulances and fire fighting vehicles described above enter Hong Kong upon request by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for assistance in case of major serious accidents on the HZMB.

Other places to turn around

After leaving the “Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities” the Hong Kong Link Road runs at grade along the east coast of the Chek Lap Kok for 1.6 kilometres, where the first turnaround point is located – the eastern portal of the Scenic Hill Tunnel.

1 kilometre in length, a second turnaround point is located at the eastern portal of the tunnel.

Transport Department photo

New we pass over the water, travelling 4.8 kilometres to the turnaround at San Shek Wan.

Grade-separated turnaround facility spans the viaduct at San Shek Wan

Followed by another 4.8 kilometres over the water, crossing the border into China, when we reach the eastern artificial island for the immersed tube tunnel. Here, on- and off-ramps serve a future commercial development.

Massive structure built atop the Hong Kong end of the immersed tube tunnel

Down into the 6.7 kilometre long tunnel, and we emerge at the western artificial island – home to another set of access roads.

Google Maps

Then continue 22.9 kilometres across the Pearl River estuary.

Across a viaduct with three navigable spans over shipping channels.

Until we finally reach the artificial island that houses the Macau and Zhuhai Boundary Crossing Facilities.

And to summarise

So here is the full list of turnaround locations:

Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities
1.6 kmat-grade road
Scenic Hill Tunnel, eastern portal
1 kmtunnel
Scenic Hill Tunnel, western portal
4.8 kmHong Kong Link Road viaduct
San Shek Wan turnaround structure
4.8 kmHong Kong Link Road viaduct
White Dolphin Island (白海豚岛)
6.7 kmimmersed tube tunnel
Blue Dolphin Island (蓝海豚岛)
22.9 kmMain Bridge viaduct
Macau and Zhuhai Boundary Crossing Facility

Which is a rather odd situation – all five turnaround locations are located on the eastern half of the bridge, three of which are located in Hong Kong, and zero on the western side.

Further viewing

Here is a 39 minute long realtime journey across the bridge.

While this is the 6 minute long speedrun version.

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‘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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