Thousands of Hong Kong commuters were scrambling to find other ways to work this morning as protesters followed through on a threatened plan to disrupt transportation services during rush hour.
Dozens of protesters, some in face masks, heeded a call to disrupt the early morning commute at Tiu King Leng station, a key interchange station for the Kwun Tong Line and the Tseung Kwan O Line. Disruptions also cropped up on the Island Line, and as of press time, service between Tai Koo and Causeway Bay was suspended.
At around 10am, some trains on the city’s Island Line, which had been paralyzed for nearly 30 minutes as crowds piled up on the platforms, had finally begun moving, though renewed disruptions cropped up in other stations just moments later, and the MTR continued to warn of lengthy delays.
Hundreds of commuters were held up for about half an hour at North Point MTR, where some people also appeared to take part in the door obstructions.
At one point, an altercation broke out between a man and a small group of police officers, who soon found themselves surrounded by an angry crowd calling for them to leave.
— Coconuts Hong Kong (@CoconutsHK) July 30, 2019
After a few minutes, the police left the young man alone, to applause from the crowd. The man declined to give his name, or say how the confrontation with police started.
“I just want to get to work like everyone else,” he told Coconuts HK, before declining to comment further.
Hours earlier, at 7:30am, protesters could be seen on an RTHK live feed preventing train doors from closing by sticking their arms in the door or yelling that they had dropped something in the gap between the train and the platform.
By about 8:50am, the MTR had officially announced that trains between Tiu King Leng and Kwun Tong would not be running, and station staff could be seen directing commuters towards a shuttle bus.
A strike by MTR conductors was also mooted for 7:30am today, but as of press time, there was no evidence that was taking place.
The MTR Corporation warned of severe delays on its app and urged members of the public to consider other transport means. It said some trains would miss certain stations and empty trains would be sent to relieve overcrowding.
The move comes just a week after a similar stunt at the Admiralty MTR station — another key interchange — when dozens of protesters were seen holding up trains by sitting in front of train doors.
“If the government is forcing people to do this kind of protest… then I support it,” one commuter at North Point, who gave his name as Matthew, told Coconuts.
Another commuter, surnamed Yam, 48, told Coconuts she “strongly support[s] the protesters,” but conceded that disruptive protests like today’s could hamper support for the movement.
“Of course it would, but what can you do?” she asked. “Because they’re risking their lives for the future of Hong Kong, so if people can’t understand that, I don’t know what to say.”
While some people commented on RTHK’s live feed that they supported the actions of the protesters, the view wasn’t universal.
One male commuter said: “I’m not the only one who’s late, but as long as they don’t hurt anyone or riot, then I’m OK with it.”
Another, however, could be overhead saying “this is outrageous,” and some minor scuffles between protesters and disgruntled passengers were witnessed on the train platform.