bus terminus a historic part of Hong Kong's urban landscape
The Antiquities and Monuments office has denied that the Tsim Sha Tsui Star ferry pier bus terminus has any historic value.
It has argued that the terminus is neither graded nor on the list of historic buildings and that it has gone through extensive alterations, in heritage terms it is of little value. I find these attitudes, particularly that of the Antiquities and Monuments Office disappointing. The first argument has a major flaw in its logic which is also reflected in the office's recent action.
Shouldn't buildings be assessed before they are considered historic? And the second argument displays an ignorance of local history. Transport operations at the terminus have gone through repeated changes over the past 120 years as urban life has been transformed.
The area where the terminus now stands is the starting point of the development of Kowloon and the New Territories.
Traditional Chinese travelling distances are measured from the terminus. The terminus developed in tandem with the urban areas. With the growing popularity of motorised transport, the interchange was transformed in 1921 from a rickshaw to a bus terminus. After 1949, Hong Kong's population grew drastically as refugees fled from the mainland. The single-decker bus could no longer cope with public demand and, therefore, the terminus was altered again to take double-decker buses.
The history of the terminus, like that of Hong Kong, is a record of changes. Its alteration reflects the past that has formed the current city's landscape and tells us where we came from. Despite all the alterations that have taken place, the physical and functional integrity of the terminus and ferry pier as a land-sea interchange has survived intact.
According to the Transport Department, 45,000 passengers are using the Star Ferry Pier at Tsim Sha Tsui every day and many of them go in transit via the terminus. It is a precious part of Hong Kong's historic urban life. The antiquities office should undertake thorough research and give it the grading it deserves, before it is destroyed.
Edmond Chui, member, Our Bus Terminal Group
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