Star Ferry terminus is more than just a bus stop for some admirers
12 July 2009
South China Morning Post

There have been petitions, Facebook campaigns and even an appeal for the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry bus terminus to be Unesco-listed.

But these calls have not influenced the government.

The terminus that has stood since the 1920s will now fade into history and be replaced by a piazza.

The plans mean the construction of a roundabout to divert all traffic away from the area and a new terminal will be built in Tsim Sha Tsui East, about 15 minutes away.

While plans have been in place to remove the terminal since 2002, with the government's decision two months ago to gazette the changes formally, there is now no going back.

Winifred Chung, for the tourism commissioner, has promised that the piazza, whose design will be decided by a competition, will offer a landscaped leisure space, seats and a venue for public activities.

Ms Chung has said the project will also preserve the existing Star Ferry Pier, the clock tower, the five flagpoles and graffiti by the "King of Kowloon", Tsang Tsou-choi.

However, many are not happy with this.

Nearly every week, Yip Tsz-ching, 41, brings her five-year-old son Chan Cheung-yin to the Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Pier by bus. Living in Kwai Chung, she is always happy to make the 45-minute trip because of the reward at the end.

"I usually bring my son to take the ferry. It does not require much money, but it means so much to us. I know many kids who are my son's age who never take the ferry.

"In about half an hour, we can travel across the harbour to Central and back again. It is a very good entertainment for me and my son," Ms Yip said.

Her son agreed: "I like taking the ferry. I can see the harbour."

Ms Yip said there was already a piazza outside the Cultural Centre, so there was no need for one outside the Star Ferry.

"When I think of walking from the new bus station in Tsim Sha Tsui East, which takes me 15 minutes, under hot sun like today with my son, I am just not going to do it. It is a bit too much."

Many in Hong Kong of a similar age to Ms Yip would feel the same way, she said.

"It is just an affordable leisure activity for people from the lower classes like us.

"Taking the bus and ferry does not cost us much, but we can come here and feel the sea breeze."

Her husband Chan Shui-hing, 40, said he supported his wife in regards to the preservation of the bus terminus.

Concerned citizens have formed a group, Our Bus Terminal, to try to save it. Four of them even went to Hanoi in Vietnam in April to attend a Unesco forum, where they argued for the cultural significance of the terminus.

Leslie Chan Ka-long, 29, chairman of the concern group, said the new piazza was not going to be a properly integrated part of the city as the existing terminus is.

"The bus terminus, where it is now located, is actually at the centre of Hong Kong's transportation history," Mr Chan said.

"When the bus terminus is removed, the piazza will become another Golden Bauhinia Square, which only tourists will visit. They will come, take pictures, and leave by coach again.

"Now, the bus terminus is actually at the centre of Hong Kong's transportation history.

"The United Nations says conservation is everyday life. The train station is nearby and the ferry pier is right there," Mr Chan said. "People commute here from early morning to late at night. This is the real Hong Kong."

And then there is Star Ferry.

"Our projection shows that the daily patronage will drop 11 per cent once the bus terminal is moved," a company spokesman said.

Chan Shui-hing, with his wife Yip Tsz-ching and son Cheung-yin, often take the bus from Kwai Chung for some inexpensive entertainment.

Leslie Chan Ka-long, the head of pressure group Our Bus Terminal, says the piazza will not properly integrate with the environment.

Planners have history of ignoring campaigners over pier (Cick to enlarge)

(上次更新: 2009-07-13)

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