Tourism boss defends TST piazza plan
17 August 2009
South China Morning Post

The tourism commissioner has defended the plan to turn the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry bus terminus into a piazza, saying there would be a new bus stop nearby and the terminus had no heritage value anyway.

"There will be a new covered bus stop outside the Cultural Centre, which is about one minute away from the Star Ferry pier," Tourism Commissioner Margaret Fong Shun-man said.

"It will serve 11 of the 14 bus lines using the existing terminus. For passengers of the three other lines, they will be able to interchange for free at Tsim Sha Tsui East to the new bus stop."

Ms Fong also said there would be covered access from the new bus stop to the Star Ferry pier and the piazza plan was supported by the Yau Tsim Mong District Council.

The plan to demolish the public transport interchange and build the piazza to give the district extra appeal and boost tourism has met strong resistance.

Some critics say that it will take 15 minutes to walk from the Star Ferry to the new bus terminus at the former Wing On Place Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui East, which would also affect ferry patronage.

Activists also say the terminus, which has been there since the 1920s, is part of the city's collective memory and they have sought to make it a Unesco-listed site.

Ms Fong said the taxi stop would be moved to Salisbury Road, which would allow 16 taxis - five more than now - to queue.

She said the Antiquities and Monuments Office had said the bus terminus had no heritage value. "The piazza plan aims to offer a leisure space for performance, just like Covent Garden [in London],"
Ms Fong said.

She rejected suggestions a shopping mall would be erected on the piazza and promised the existing Star Ferry Pier, the clock tower, the five flagpoles and graffiti by the "King of Kowloon" Tsang Tsou-choi would be preserved.

An old train carriage would be converted into a new visitor centre to reflect the fact that the piazza had been next to the railway station before it made way for the Cultural Centre.

Asked if there would be any bus stop pole or sign at the piazza to commemorate the bus terminal, Ms Fong did not rule out the possibility and said it depended on the design - to be announced early next year.

Leslie Chan Ka-long, chairman of concern group Our Bus Terminal, said the new transport arrangements would make traffic worse in the already busy Salisbury Road. "It's not feasible for the new bus stop to serve
11 routes in both directions. It will be very congested," Mr Chan said, adding that the group had studied traffic flows in the area.

"The westbound lane of Salisbury Road, which is already very busy, will be a lot worse if the taxi rank is moved there, too."

Although passengers on three of the bus lines could transfer for free to reach the pier, it would be inconvenient for them as they would need more time to complete their journeys, he said.

By Paggie Leung

(上次更新: 2009-08-10)

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