West Island Line does not affect elderly residents much

While the West Island Line of MTR has reached Sai Ying Pun for almost half a year, some of the long-serving shops near the station and senior residents have not seen much change to their daily lives.

A number of traditional shops located on Second Street have been in business and serving the community for decades. One of them, Kwong Lam Kee, has been selling household products in the neighbourhood for more than 40 years.

Mrs Kwong, the second generation owner of this shop, said her shop does not benefit a lot from the West Island Line as her customers are mainly the residents living nearby. Since the shop premises were bought decades ago, she does not need to worry about paying the rent.

Mrs Kwong described the changes of demographics in the community throughout the decades. “In the past, mainly local people would come to shop, but now the neighbourhood is getting richer, more foreign domestic helpers and mainland students come here to buy their necessities,” she said.

Not only do the shoppers change, the housewares in the shop also evolve in pace with the development of the city. From the bamboo-made products in the 1970s to a variety of plastic-made goods at present, Mrs Kwong exclaimed that the shop is “living with the times”.

Sai Ying Pun is one of the three stations on the MTR West Island Line project. The Island Line of MTR has extended to Kennedy Town from late December 2014, but Sai Ying Pun station did not open until late March 2015.

On Second Street, just opposite to Exit B2 of the MTR station, there is a long-serving grocery staying in business for more than three decades.

Ngai Yau Shing, the 90-year-old owner of the shop, is there running from 10am to 7pm every day. He lives nearby and said there is a slight increase in business resulting from the opening of the MTR station. He explained that some of the commuters pass by and pick up drinks.

Like Mrs Kwong, Mr Ngai also bought the ownership of the property many years ago. “The price of the property has increased a lot, I could not afford to buy it now if I did not make the purchase decision in the past,” he said.

Wong Kun Wah, a 89-year-old resident living along High Street, said he seldom goes beyond Sai Ying Pun as he feels this neighbourhood is sufficient for his needs.

While some senior residents opt for maintaining the status quo, some of the younger dwellers benefit from the opening of Sai Ying Pun station.

Amy Chan, the general manager of a real estate agency, Hung Fung Propety, located on Western Street, said the MTR saves her much travelling time for meeting clients. “I can accurately estimate the journey time”, she said.

Before the MTR reached Sai Ying Pun earlier this year, she relied on other road transports for daily commute, for example minbus and taxi. Due to the frequent occurrence of traffic congestion on the main roads of Hong Kong Island, she had to reserve much more time for her travel.

As a nearby resident, Ms Chan also takes the MTR during her leisure time. She usually dines out in Causeway Bay by taking the train.

“The opening of MTR station has driven more residents living nearby to go to other places”, she said.

(Photo: K.Y. Cheng, SCMP)


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