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Filipino migrants join huge crowds on free-ride Sunday

20 December 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Queues were long for buses bound for Repulse Bay, Stanley and the Peak

Yesterday was unlike most Sundays in Hong Kong, as thousands of people turned out to enjoy the free rides offered by most public transportation companies, as part of the government’s  bid to encourage more people to vote in the Legislative Council election.

As Sunday happens to be the day-off of most foreign domestic workers in the city, they also joined the mad dash for the free rides on the MTR, LRT, buses and trams.

Many took the opportunity to go to far-off places they’d normally pay a huge fare to visit, such as the Tai Tong Sweet Gum Woods in Yuen Long and the Strawberry Farm in Fanling.

Many migrants took the chance to travel to the Tai Tong Sweet Gum Woods for free

One Filipino couple posted a video on Facebook showing them taking the MTR all the way to Lo Wu and back, joking in the process that they almost got into Shenzhen, which, however, remains closed to most people in Hong Kong due to Covid restrictions.

Some migrant workers opted to take shorter visits to places like the Sham Shui Po market or the products expo at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, but almost quit when they saw the huge throng of people trying to get into the subways.


Muntik ko nang hindi kinaya ang siksikan sa MTR,” said Cherry Anne, who went to Sham Shui Po from Central after lunch. (I almost quit seeing the packed trains of the MTR).

She said her friend had tried to take a video of the crowds inside the station, but was unable to do so amid the jostling and the pushing.


Due to the number of people who took the MTR, the most expensive but quickest mode of transportation, passengers were told they need not tap their Octopus cards or buy tickets when entering.

This caused a bit of confusion as some buses had signs saying passengers had to tap their Octopus cards before getting in, even if no amount was debited from their accounts.


To cope with the expected deluge, the MTR management deployed 600 additional staff to help with crowd control. Some stations had passageways reserved only for people who were getting out, but not for those getting in.

MTR trains were this packed during peak hours for the free rides

Among the favorite destinations of the free riders was Repulse Bay and Stanley, or the Peak. Hundreds of people lined up at the bus stop beside United Centre in Admiralty to get to either destination, but were quickly given relief when buses were sent out every few minutes to pick them up.

There was a longer wait, however, for the regular buses that did not pass by popular sites, such as Bus No 10 that goes from Kennedy Town to North Point pier. The bus that normally involved a waiting time of only 10 to 15 minutes took as long as 30 minutes as some of the buses on the fleet were apparently deployed to other routes.


Long queues were also reported at bus stops by the Hung Hom cross-harbor tunnel, where passengers could get on most routes provided by KMB, Citybus and New World First Bus.

Also providing free service for the day were Long Win Bus and New Lantao Bus, as well as the tram.


Many opted to go to Disneyland from Central, where the adult fare could set you back $29.50 each way. Even if they didn’t get into the park itself, many migrant workers said it was worth the visit as the big crowds contributed to the festive spirit.

But the unprecedented treat did not sit well with some, especially those who live in the outlying islands as boat trips, including those on the Star Ferry, were not free.

Pindutin para sa detalye

The government said it didn’t spend a cent on the free rides, which were all shouldered by participating transport companies.

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