Macau Matters | Taipa Ferry Terminal Shemozzle

Richard Whitfield

My hip replacement surgery recovery has proceeded well, and I am very happy with the outcome. I was finally able to travel home to Macau last Thursday but my medical advisors were insistant that I wore compression stockings for the flight. I have been informed that more and more people are wearing these stockings when they fly. They are difficult to put on and a bit uncomfortable, but a small price to pay if the stop you dying from a blood clot, or even if they just prevent swollen ankles after the flight.

On arriving on Hong Kong I got a seat on the next airport ferry to Macau. I have never understood why the Hong Kong government was so stupid as to put the ferry terminal in the international transit area so that people cannot use it to travel between Tung Chung and Macau. Simply relocating the terminal would make it a much more useful ferry route and would increase the traffic is carries. I also do not understand why nearly all the shopping and other amenities are in the departures area that is inaccessible to transit passengers – another very stupid design decision.

My first impression of the new Taipa Ferry Terminal was how “cavernous” it is. It seems 3-4 times the needed size, even if tourism numbers greatly increase. However, clearly ferry traffic will decrease when the new Hong Kong-Macau bridge opens because of competition from buses so the new terminal will remain a cavernous white elephant forever. Surely, a phased design could have been done so that a much smaller terminal was initially developed and then expanded over time as needed?

On finally reaching the baggage collection carousal I was immediately struck by the very small number of carousals (2) for such a large number of ferry berths (16) – surely the designers could have created a better balance? After watching the empty carousal rotate of at least 20 minutes, it stopped and needed to be repaired! How can a brand new ferry terminal have such breakdowns so soon after opening – did they do no quality control and acceptance testing for the new equipment (or is the equipment old and been sitting there idle for years)?

Eventually I got my bags back and left the arrivals hall, but there was no pick-up point for private cars. The signage for the car park also seemed non-existent. Surely, any competent ferry terminal design would incorporate an easy way for family and friends to pick up arriving passengers – not everybody coming to Macau is a tourist wanting to catch a taxi or bus. Following the advice of friends, my wife actually waited for me at the departures area where there are private vehicle waiting areas. Because of the circuitous building design and lack of signage it took me about 15 minutes of wandering around before finally getting a ride home.

As a final comment, the relative locations of the ferry terminal, the airport, the bus station and light rails stations are all nonsensical – I am totally mystified by why the ferry terminal was not located much closer to the airport, to make transiting much easier; and why the bus terminal was not located between the two so it could serve both places; and why they need two light rail stations, when one located between the airport and ferry terminals could also serve both (and why not put the bus terminal below the light rail station?).

Overall, the design of the new Taipa Ferry Terminal shows a complete lack of competence, let alone it being several years late in opening. In Macau we pay our public servants well, and for this we deserve competence, not the complete shemozzle we have received!

Categories Opinion