Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said that the city needs to come up with better emergency transportation arrangements during extreme weather, such as when the T9 signal was suddenly raised on Sunday evening as Typhoon Koinu approached the city.

The Hong Kong Observatory raised the Increasing Gale or Storm Signal, No. 9 at 7.05pm on Sunday with barely 15 minutes’ notice to residents of the city, corporations such as the MTR, which provides essential train and bus services to the SAR, and other transport agencies. 

This led to the arrivals hall of the airport being filled with incoming passengers who had no way to leave, other than by taxi, as all bus services and the Airport Express were suspended when the T9 signal was hoisted. However, the wait times for taxis went up to three hours and there were reports on social media of taxis charging over HK$700 for journeys less than 2km long.

taxi fare in hong kong and queues at hong kong airport
The taxi fare for a short journey on a Hong Kong taxi on the night of October 8, 2023, and the queues at the Hong Kong International Airport on the same night (© 今日有嘢講Today Review67 via Facebook/@pgpringle via X)

In addition, fewer taxis are able to access the airport during extreme weather in Hong Kong due to restrictions placed on important thoroughfares such as Stonecutters Bride, during which the middle lanes are closed and traffic is only permitted on the fast and slow lanes.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday morning, Lee said, “We will have to look at the situation and think of a better way of handling it. MTRC has a contingency plan in regards to what should happen and what should not happen in Typhoon No. 9. I have asked the Transport and Logistics Bureau to examine this together with MTRC and the Airport Authority, as well as transportation sector. What I hope to achieve is a contingency plan which will deal with extreme situations involving the need for emergency transportation.”

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Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee addresses the issue of emergency transport during extreme weather in Hong Kong

Header image credits: 一蚊budget via X

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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