Central–Mid-Levels escalator and walkway system

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Central–Mid-Levels escalator
and walkway system
Outdoor escalator and walkway
Inside the escalator system.
Inside the escalator system.
Features: escalator, walkway, moving walkway, stairs
Opening date: 15 October 1993; 24 years ago (1993-10-15)
Height: ~ 135 meters (443 ft)
Length: ~ 800 meters (2,600 ft)
Owner: Government of Hong Kong
Location: Queen's Road Central to
Conduit Road, Hong Kong
Coordinates: 22°17′1.19″N 114°9′17.40″E / 22.2836639°N 114.1548333°E / 22.2836639; 114.1548333
Website Transport Department's introduction

Coordinates: 22°17′1.19″N 114°9′17.40″E / 22.2836639°N 114.1548333°E / 22.2836639; 114.1548333

Central–Mid-Levels escalator and walkway system
Chinese 中環至半山自動扶梯系統

The Central–Mid-Levels escalator and walkway system in Hong Kong is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. Engineered by French company Constructions industrielles de la Méditerranée, the entire system covers over 800 metres (2,600 ft) in distance and elevates over 135 metres (443 ft) from bottom to top.[1] It was constructed in 1993 to provide a better commute by linking Central, SoHo and Mid-levels on Hong Kong Island.[2]

Apart from serving as a method of transporting, the system is also a tourist attraction and has restaurants, bars, and shops lining its route.[3]


Schematic Diagram of Central-Mid-Levels Escalator and Walkway System

Hong Kong Island is dominated by steep, hilly terrain, which makes it the home of some rather unusual methods of transport up and down the slopes. It was featured on the CNN website as one of the coolest commutes in the world in March 2015.[4]

Since it was officially opened to the public on 15 October 1993, the escalator system has played a very important role in pedestrianising the Western District. It links Queen's Road Central in Central with Conduit Road in the Mid-Levels, passing through narrow streets. The daily traffic exceeds 85,000 people,[5] although originally forecast for 27,000. At Queen's Road Central, the Central–Mid-Levels escalators system is connected through Central Market to the Central Elevated Walkway, an extensive footbridge network covering the Central area.

The escalator system is 800 metres (2,600 ft) long with a vertical climb of 135 metres (443 ft). The total travel time is twenty minutes, but most people walk while the escalator moves to shorten their trip. Due to the geographical situation, the same distance is equivalent to several miles of zigzagging roads if travelling by car. It consists of 18 escalators and three inclined moving walkways. According to Guinness World Records, these escalators together form the longest outdoor covered escalator system.[6]

The one-way escalators and moving walkways run downhill from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then uphill from 10 a.m. to midnight daily. If users want to travel in an opposite way, they need to use the staircases and ramps along the escalator, which consists of total 782 steps between Conduit Road and Queen's Road Central footbridge. There is an entrance and exit on each road it passes, often on both sides of the road.


The proposal of the project began in November 1987, when the Government faced the problem of increasing vehicular traffic in Mid-Levels.[7] It was an "outside the box" transportation solution generated by a group of civil engineers working for P&T Architects & Engineers Ltd.[citation needed]

Central–Mid-Levels escalators under construction in the early 1990s

In operation since 1993, it cost HK$240 million (US$30 million) to build although it was originally approved in March 1990 with a budget of HK$100m and annual maintenance costs of $950,000.[8] Since its conception in March 1987, its scope and its budget were considerably increased.[9]

In November 1996, the Director of Audit issued a report which criticised the project as being a "white elephant", saying that it failed to achieve the primary objective of reducing traffic between the Mid-Levels and Central, as well as over-running its budget by 153%. The Highways Department's poor handling of the project was the main reason for having five cost revisions of the project since the budget had been initially approved. The Director of Audit blamed it for failing to address the risks and complexities associated with the project in the pre-tender estimates, and costs rising because of delays.[10] Land resumption costs were also underestimated by $74 million (or 180%). The report also points out that a "before-and-after" study by the Transport Department indicated no obvious reduction in traffic congestion.[10]

The Transport Department conducted patronage surveys for the entire system in 2005 and 2010. In 2005, the system saw about 54,000 daily pedestrian trips. This grew to 85,000 trips in 2010. The department noted that the escalator has relieved demand for public transport, but has not led to many motorists giving up driving or reduced traffic congestion, in line with the traffic planning principle of induced demand.[5]

Since the escalator system opened, most pedestrians gather at the elevated level; previously they gathered at the street level. This has opened up large tracts of intermediate levels above ("SoHo") and below ("NoHo") Hollywood Road, to pedestrians and commerce. Many restaurants have opened around all the elevated level, in the first or second floors of buildings already present.

The system is scheduled for refurbishment in phases starting in 2017.[5]

Bisecting streets[edit]

The system runs through the whole length of Cochrane Street (named for Rear Admiral Thomas Alexander Cochrane)[11] between Queen's Road Central and Hollywood Road. Then it runs along the entire length of a ladder street, Shelley Street.

The whole system bisects the following streets / roads:

As film location[edit]

The Central–Mid-Levels escalators have been used as filming locations for several films, including:

  • Chungking Express (1994). Director Wong Kar-wai stated: "That interests me because no one has made a movie there. When we were scouting for locations we found the light there entirely appropriate."[12]
  • Chinese Box (1997). Set in the months immediately preceding the 1997 handover of Hong Kong, the flat-cum-office of the main character John (Jeremy Irons) is located directly at the Central–Mid-Levels escalators.
  • The Batman film The Dark Knight (2008). Filming took place there 6–11 November 2007.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rory Boland. "Hong Kong's Central-Mid Levels Escalator - The Longest in the World". About.com. Retrieved 3 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Anne Gold (6 July 2001). "Hong Kong's Mile-Long Escalator System Elevates the Senses : A Stairway to Urban Heaven". New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2009. 
  3. ^ "Hong Kong's Central-Mid Levels Escalator". TripSavvy. Retrieved 2018-01-07. 
  4. ^ "CNN ranks HK Mid-Levels Escalator as one of the world's 7 coolest commutes- OKAY.com". Retrieved 19 April 2018. 
  5. ^ a b c "LCQ10: Hillside escalator links and elevator systems". Legislative Council. 16 December 2015. 
  6. ^ "Stairway to urban heaven", South China Morning Post, 11 July 2011
  7. ^ Brian Wong,HK's lofty plan for world's longest moving walkway is a step nearer, South China Morning Post, 4 November 1987
  8. ^ "Escalator link to Central approved" (PDF). The Standard. 17 March 1990. Retrieved 19 December 2006. 
  9. ^ "Mid Levels link rises to $100m" (PDF). South China Morning Post. 17 March 1990. Retrieved 19 December 2006. 
  10. ^ a b Yonden Lhatoo, Escalator 'a costly white elephant', The Standard, 6 November 1996
  11. ^ Yanne, Andrew; Heller, Gillis (2009). Signs of a Colonial Era. Hong Kong University Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-962-209-944-9. 
  12. ^ J. D. Lafrance, "Cinematic Pleasures: Chungking Express", Erasing Clouds 23 (2004)

External links[edit]