- James Antrobus/Flickr
One of the first things you notice when visiting Hong Kong is its hilliness. Then you notice the escalators running up those hills.
The city is home to the longest outdoor escalator system in the world – the Central to Mid Levels Escalator system. The escalator system was built in 1993 as a solution to the massive traffic congestion in the city.
Even though it’s received some criticism because of its high cost and inefficiency, it still stands today as one of Hong Kong’s landmarks.
Take a look inside.
While San Francisco has its cable cars and Norway has bicycle lifts, one of Hong Kong’s solutions to its huge inclines and traffic is its escalator system.
Opened in 1993, the Central–Mid Levels Escalator has 18 escalators and three inclined moving walkways. The escalators run downhill during from midnight until 10:30 AM, then uphill until midnight the next day.
- Connie Ma/Flickr
Source: Hong Kong Traveler
The whole system ferries tens of thousands of workers to and from work — 85,000 at the last count in 2010. The escalator bisects 14 roads, from Conduit Road in the west to Queens Road in the east.
The escalator cost $30 million to build in 1993, which overshot the city’s budget by 153%. Seeing that the escalator did nothing to reduce traffic, the city’s auditing director called the project a “costly white elephant.”
- K.C. Tang/Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wall Street Journal
But it’s also attracted local development. The Soho neighborhood has become a popular destination for nightlife for workers who take the escalator up and down every day, and rents along the escalators have swelled, according to the BBC.
- Doug Letterman/Flickr
The city’s fascination with escalators continues to this day — Ocean Park, a marine park and aquarium in Hong Kong, has erected its own 739-foot-long escalator, which the park claims is the second longest outdoor escalator in the world.
- WeHK1004/Wikimedia Commons
Source: Ocean Park