"Taking the Escalator Up the Mountain"
Every morning, the famous Central-Mid-Levels Escalator gently rolls downhill, taking commuters from the hillside residential areas to Central District in the bustling heart of the Chinese special administrative region. This escalator, also known as the "Central-Mid-Levels-Escalator," is utilized and appreciated by people from all walks of life, from elderly individuals to domestic helpers going to the markets, and smartly dressed businessmen on their way to the office.
This system is not just a single escalator but a network of interconnected escalators and moving walkways. They are designed to allow passengers to get on or off at different points and often run over the streets at an elevated level.
Stretching over 800 meters, it is the longest covered escalator system in the world. It covers a total ascent of 135 meters and, best of all, it is free of charge.
David, a 50-year-old resident who lives near the top of the mountain, spends around 30 minutes each day on the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator. He relies on it for his daily commute to the office and back up the mountain afterward. Carmen, a 42-year-old Hong Kong resident, finds the escalator particularly convenient in the summer months as it reduces her sweating during the journey to work.
The system operates in a specific direction during different hours of the day. It starts downhill at 6 am and continues in that direction until 10 am. Tourists unfamiliar with this schedule occasionally find themselves confused. One mainland Chinese tourist explains how she was worried about going in the wrong direction since the escalator only went downhill. However, a staff member informed her that the direction changes at 10 am. Such schedule adjustments require around 20 minutes to reconfigure each of the 23 escalators.
While descending, the escalator sees only a few people using the opposite staircase to go uphill. However, as the time approaches 10 am, more and more people gather and eagerly wait for the direction to switch, especially elderly individuals burdened with shopping bags.
Hong Kong residents, including a 95-year-old woman, appreciate the convenience of the escalator system, particularly during rainy or sunny weather. Bypassing the need to use public transportation, they find it very practical. The famous escalator has even made appearances in popular movies, such as Wong Kar-wai's "Chungking Express" in 1994 and "The Dark Knight" in 2008.
As the famous escalator system celebrates its 30th anniversary this year since its launch in October 1993, initial criticisms about its cost and being a project for the wealthy have largely subsided. The Central-Mid-Levels Escalator has become a beloved transportation mode for both tourists and locals alike, with approximately 80,000 people using it daily.
Carmen, the 42-year-old Hong Kong resident, expresses her hope that the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator will continue operating for many years to come, envisioning generations to come experiencing its convenience and charm. She believes that the escalator is already pretty great and sees no need for any changes.