Pro-Beijing lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun has suggested that commuters stay late at work to avoid the rush hour, which is expected to worsen as the South Island Line (East) is due to open at the end of the year.

Tien said on Thursday that the opening of the South Island Line (East) – which links Admiralty to southern districts such as Ocean Park and Ap Lei Chau – would cause the platforms of Admiralty station, a major transit stop, to be even more crowded.

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Admiralty MTR station. File

Tien said he had once had to wait for four or five trains before successfully boarding one.

“A solution is to increase the train services of the Tsuen Wan Line,” Tien said. “But since improvements to the signaling system will not be completed until the end of 2018, people may have to be packed like sardines for the next two years.”

“I advise all commuters to consider getting off work late, so that they don’t need to be crammed during that period of time,” he said.

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Michael Tien. File Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP

He also expressed hope that the MTR Corporation would implement a discount period after 7pm to ease the flow during peak times.

“It would already be good enough if five to ten per cent of commuters can be diverted during the rush hour.” Tien added that the MTR Corporation had told him it was considering his suggestion.

After Tien’s proposal received criticism, the lawmaker elaborated his idea on Friday, saying that employers can implement flexible work arrangements to allow workers to start and finish work late.

He added that flexible work hours are common practice in some countries.

South Island Line (East). Photo: MTR.

Tien also asked Ocean Park, which closes at 6pm on weekdays, to consider organising evening events to retain visitors until 8pm so as not to make the Admiralty station busier during peak times.

The line will connect Admiralty, Ocean Park, Wong Chuk Hang, Lei Tung and South Horizons, with an estimated 11 minutes of travel time between Admiralty and South Horizons.

The MTR Corporation chair previously said that the line may be delayed by up to three months due to construction difficulties at the Admiralty station.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.