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
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 -
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
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
By Paggie Leung