Des Voeux Road Central Pedestrianisation Focussed Study - Final Report
In the Summer of 2000 a Working Party formed by the Hong Kong Institute of Planners (HKIP) and the Chartered Institute of Transport (CIT) put forward the concept of pedestrianisation in Des Voeux Road Central between Western Market and Pedder Street.
The proposal - the Des Voeux Road Central Scheme - was initiated in order to create a new environment in Central consistent with the objective of making Hong Kong a “World City”. The Working Party believed strongly that the streets of Central are a key feature of the city and should give a positive image of Hong Kong which residents and visitors alike would hold in their minds, admire and enjoy.
The DVRC Scheme was envisioned as part of an overall “Revitalisation Plan” for Central incorporating the following key strategic transport related objectives:
- Resolving the sub-standard physical environment caused by vehicular traffic.
- Creating a people-dominated environment.
- Dedicating more street space to pedestrians.
- Promoting environmentally friendly transport modes.
- Promoting better integration of all transport modes.
- Securing a high level of accessibility
- Promoting the image of Hong Kong as a "World City".
The achievement of these objectives will require changes in the use of roadspace in Central between pedestrians and vehicles and a restructuring of the road network and public transport services. This will take a number of years to implement and will need to be done step by step in conjunction with the completion of new road infrastructure, the opening of new railway lines and stations, the introduction of traffic management measures and the phased integration of public transport services.
These ideas were in contrast to the severely polluted and congested conditions in Central today which give a somewhat neglected and even run down ambience. Pedestrians experience congested footpaths; blockages from bus queues and stalls; inconvenient crossing facilities; noise and vehicle emissions; safety problems; ugly and messy street furniture and there is hardly a tree in sight. The conditions have substantially worsened in the past few years as the volume of buses entering Central have increased substantially by around 70% and aggravated the already difficult and unattractive conditions.
The Des Voeux Road Central (DVRC) Scheme was put forward against a background of recent policy statements by the Chief Executive, the Secretary for Planning and Lands, and the Secretary for Transport that new approaches are going to be taken in land use/transport/environment planning with the promotion of traffic free areas putting greater emphasis on the needs of people and the living environment.
Already the pedestrianisation of part of Russell Street in Causeway Bay is proving to be a success and the scheme is planned to be extended gradually in the vicinity. Schemes are being developed step by step in Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok and plans are being prepared for other areas.
Whilst the DVRC Scheme is in response to a specific policy objective, the framing of the scheme must be set in the context of the broader Transport Policy objectives (see plate) as well as planning and environmental goals. To this end the development of the DVRC Scheme is part of an integrated approach built around using rail as the backbone, promoting public transport and a high quality bus operating environment, and providing good access as well as underpinning the social and economic development of Central through pedestrianisation.
HONG KONG MOVING AHEAD
- Better integration of transport and land use planning
- Better use of railways as the back-bone of our passenger transport system
- Better public transport services and facilities
- Better use of advanced technologies in transport management
- Better environment protection
Presentation and Consultation
The DVRC Scheme was presented in a document entitled “Creating a Better Place for People: Des Voeux Road Pedestrian Precinct” which is available on the web at www.netvigator.com. The Working Party held a series of formal and informal presentations and consultations with a wide range of public and private organisations.
In general the proposal was met with a very positive response reflecting the general public’s growing appreciation of the need to resolve the severe environmental problems and to secure the social and economic opportunities offered by pedestrianisation. The overriding message was that a fresh approach was essential and that Central should properly represent Hong Kong as a commercial, financial and tourist centre.
Whilst on balance the support was strongly in favour, a number of key implementation issues were pointed out and were taken on board by the Working Party. In particular the phasing of the scheme may need to be coordinated with new roads and railways planned for Central; it may be that pedestrianisation of certain sections and the westbound lanes of DVRC can go ahead earlier and Eastbound follow later; and the restructuring of the bus services may take time and will require careful planning and coordination with interchange provision and fares integration.
A scheme on such a scale raises management and institutional issues which were seen by many parties to be critical factors in securing implementation. It was noted that at present a broad based integrated implementation agency did not exist in Government nor were there any established channels for participation by the public and private sector.
The "Focussed" Study
The initial response was very positive and has encouraged the Working Party to continue to investigate the DVRC Scheme further. To this end, a “Focussed Study” was initiated by the Institute of Planners supported by MVA Hong Kong Limited with the sponsorship of the MTR Corporation Limited. The Study addressed the following key implementation issues:
- Feasibility of diverting traffic from DVRC.
- Restructuring of Bus Services.
- Implications of new road and rail infrastructure.
- Integration of MTR/tram/bus/ferry services.
A range of other issues such as servicing and traffic circulation were considered but not investigated in detail. In addition and most importantly emphasis was placed on the overall integration of the scheme into Land Use/Transport/Environmental Plan for Central.
The Study Area is illustrated below comprises two main areas.
areas between Hollywood Road and Connaught Road Central
existing and future reclamation areas north of Connaught Road Central
This document is the Final Report of the Focussed Study.