Central Mid-Levels Escalator Hong Kong – 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. It was constructed in 1993 to provide a better commute by linking areas within the Central and Western District on Hong Kong Island.
The proposal of the project began in November 1987, when the Government faced the problem of increasing vehicular traffic in Mid-Levels. It was an “outside the box” transportation solution generated by a group of civil engineers working for P & T Architects & Engineers Ltd.
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. Since its conception in March 1987, its scope and its budget were considerably increased.
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. 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.