A district councillor who uses a wheelchair has criticised the MTR’s lack of facilities at Tai Wai station for the visually impaired and passengers using wheelchairs, baby carts and bicycles after the only elevator on the northbound platform closed for repairs on Monday. A notice directed passengers travelling northbound to go south to the next station, Kowloon Tong, and then turn back.

For wheelchair-bound passengers travelling north from Kowloon to Tai Wai, they are required to travel to Sha Tin and then turn back to alight at Tai Wai’s southbound platform.

The group protesting at the Tai Wai station.
The group protesting at Tai Wai station. Photo: Yip Wing.

Sha Tin district councillor Yip Wing – the only local representative who uses a wheelchair – and nine others who were in need of the elevator protested at the station on Tuesday. They tried to travel from Tai Wai to Sha Tin, and found out it took 72 minutes for them all to arrive at their destination.

‘Very ridiculous’

“Tai Wai is an important interchange station, there should not be only one elevator,” Yip said in a statement.

“It was very ridiculous for the MTR Corporation to teach passengers in need to change at stations [to go northbound] – it should arrange better measures to help needy passengers,” he added.

The elevator works are expected to be completed by mid-June.

Elevator for Tai Wai's northbound platform.
Elevator for Tai Wai’s northbound platform. Photo: InMedia.

The group included seven wheelchair users, one with a bicycle, a visually impaired person and one with a baby cart, according to InMedia which followed them on their journey at 5:45pm on Tuesday.

It took 15 minutes for all of them to reach the southbound platform as each elevator could only take one wheelchair user due to limited space.

Yip Wing and others on a crowded Kowloon Tong platform.
Yip Wing and others on a crowded Kowloon Tong platform. Photo: Yip Wing.

MTR platform staff members allowed up to four wheelchair users in a train for the group, as they boarded three separate trains and all arrived at Kowloon Tong in 15 minutes.

Yip said it was “unusual” that MTR staff allowed up to four wheelchairs, a bicycle and a baby cart on one train. The group then boarded two separate trains and arrived in Sha Tin at around 7pm.

Timer for the journey.
Timer for the journey. Photo: InMedia.

Yip also criticised the MTR after it arranged easy-access bus services for people with mobility difficulties and those in need for the route from Tai Wai to Sha Tin, but failed to do so for those arriving in Tai Wai from Kowloon Tong.

He urged the MTR Corporation to make arrangements for the latter route, increase the number of platform staff members to help wheelchair users with portable ramp services and for them to shorten the maintenance downtime. He also requested that at least two elevators be built for each platform in new stations.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.