IF you want to add riding the world’s longest outdoor escalator and moving footway system to your list of achievements, you’ll need to go to Hong Kong to do so because the one there is without doubt the world’s longest, and takes an extraordinary twenty minutes to ride from end to end.
Covering a whopping 800 metres (around 2,600 feet) and with a vertical rise of 135 metres (443 feet) between bottom and top, it joins the lower Central business district of the city with the higher residential Mid-Levels district by way of eighteen inter-connecting escalators and three inclined moving footways.
Opened in October 1993 at a cost of HK$240m (AU$41m) and more than 150% over-budget, the system was forecast to carry 27,000 people a day, but within ten years double this number were patronising it daily. And currently its closer to 90,000 daily – over three times more than the original forecasts.
Because the route that it follows is so narrow between Hong Kong’s high-rises, it has only one “lane” and thus can run in only one direction at a time… so that’s downhill from 6am to 10am to get people from the residential Mid-Levels to work and shopping, and then uphill from Central from10am to midnight to get them home again.
And with locals and the millions of tourists who use it each year also having to get off and then back onto the system where it breaks for the roads it encounters, restaurants, bars and shops have flourished around each of these break points.
HONG KONG boasts the world’s longest escalator and moving footway running
800 metres down the side of this narrow pedestrian way between the Mid-Levels
residential area and lower Central Business district.