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Thursday, Jan 20, 2022

Amusement parks and Product Expo filled with crowds, thanks to free public transport on election day

Crowds flooded to amusement parks and a shopping expo, riding on the free public transport service offered on election day.
Free transportation is offered on most MTR, buses and tram routes for the Legislative Council election on Sunday. But it was questionable if people made use of it to go voting – many ended up going to attractions which are located further away from city center, so that they could save on transport costs.

It was crowded at Hong Kong Disneyland in the afternoon, as visitors said they “have never seen so many people.”

A couple admitted that they visited the park due to the free rides, and said it is illogical to introduce free transport to encourage people to go vote – as most polling stations are situated close to where one lives.

At Ocean Park, long queues appeared as people attend a Christmas-themed event, which has a European-style Christmas market set up at the park.

The Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo at Victoria Park was also busy. Dozens were seen waiting for buses which go across the harbor to Yuen Long West.

A citizen said: "Getting discounted food and necessities with free rides is more cost-effective."

In Tung Chung, a hiker said the free transport was so attractive that it affected his desire to vote. He took free rides to head to Lantau island.

He said that he may choose to vote if he could return home before the polling station closed.

Another citizen took free bus trip from Yuen Long to Tung Chung, and said there were 20 to 30 percent more people than usual public holidays.

Lau said that she did not intend to vote, adding that she did vote in the past elections.

"This year's election is monopolized," she said. "Even without the free rides, I will not vote."

The MTR's free service covered all routes except the Airport Express. It once enforced special arrangements at the Causeway Bay and Sham Shui Po MTR stations due to crowds, before reopening the exits in the evening.

Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Barnabus Fung Wah said in the first eight hours since voting started, 940,000 people cast their ballots.

The turnout rate was 21.02 percent for the geographical constituencies – as compared to 31.16 percent in the same period in 2016.

As for the polling stations at three border points, 3,800 voters headed to Heung Yuen Wai, 4,217 to Lo Wu, and 6,089 to Lok Ma Chau.

Fung said three more polling stations had to suspend voting for 10 minutes due to problems with the electronic system distributing ballots.

The three stations are at Tsing Yi Trade Association Primary School, Kowloon Technical School and Buddhist Lim Kim Tian Memorial Primary School. They will closer later than 10.30pm to compensate for the lost voting time.

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