With Discovery Bay Plaza bus terminus now open for business and expanded retail opportunities coming soon, Elizabeth Jerabek looks into the motivation behind the new development and what residents can expect.
Two years in the making, the new Discovery Bay Plaza bus terminus opened on April 13. Celebrations at the opening day ceremony included lion dances and a ribbon-cutting, and the first bus was welcomed in at 12pm.
As part of the opening day celebrations – and to thank residents for their support during the new terminus’ construction – Hong Kong Resort (HKR) offered free rides to all passengers on all internal bus routes departing between 5.30am and 11.59pm.
A bigger bus terminus
The construction of the new bus terminus was proposed in 2016, and work began in 2017 with the contentious relocation of the old golf cart parking lot to the new lot at the Discovery Bay Recreation Club. The old bus terminus closed at the end of February 2017, and the project is scheduled to finish at the end of this year when the shops open in the expanded retail arcade under the newly raised terminus.
“The goal of the new bus terminus is to enhance the DB bus service and improve overall traffic safety (since it’s now on the same level as the main road), with the added benefit of expanding the shopping arcade to provide better retail facilities,” says Vincent Chua, general manager, DB Operations.
“The new bus terminus marks a new chapter for the Discovery Bay bus services,” Vincent adds. “The terminus is more spacious and enhances traffic safety for both passengers and bus drivers. Such a big project requires close communication with residents. Together we made it happen and I would like to thank residents for their support and patience.”
New safety features implemented include pedestrian crossings on the main road by the terminus, and barrier-free facilities, such as dropped kerbs at every bus bay for wheelchair and pram users. New lifts and escalators are scheduled to open later this year.
The new bus terminus sees an increase in the number of bus bays [from 16 to 22], and residents have expressed concerns that this, alongside the provision of more space for double-decker buses, means that more buses will be introduced to internal routes, something that could negatively impact the safety of DB’s roads.
But Vincent assures that this is not the case. “The old bus terminus was not designed to accommodate the larger buses (which were added in 2015),” he says. ‘The additional capacity will support the deployment of existing double-decker buses on the external bus routes to Tung Chung and Sunny Bay. We currently have no plans to deploy doubledecker buses on internal routes.”
Construction of the new bus terminus and expanded retail arcade began in March 2017, and Vincent stresses that throughout the construction period HKR worked hard to minimise disruption to existing services, most of which remain in place.
“With the new bus terminus in use, the only change to existing internal bus routes is a new en-route stop at the terminus,” says Vincent. “All bus stops remain the same, except the pair of bus stops at Discovery Bay Road near La Costa Two and at the access road to La Vista near Discovery Bay Road, which are no longer operational. The three external routes (DB01R, DB02R and DB03R) will continue to operate with the same routes and bus stop arrangements for the moment. Further changes to both internal and external bus routes will be discussed at the Passenger Liaison Group meeting in June.
“The pick-up and drop-off points for hire cars and all hotel and club shuttle buses have already been relocated to the new bus terminus, and the footpath along Discovery Bay Road has been reopened for public use.”
Expanded retail opportunities
HKR is now in the process of recruiting tenants for the expanded retail arcade – and according to a HKR spokesperson, “It will include an international standard ice-skating rink and diversified food and beverage offerings and leisure choices.”
Speculating about future retail openings, some DBers fear that larger chain operators will displace local businesses. (DCH Foods and Salt & Pepper both closed in January when their shop spaces were displaced by the construction works in the plaza.)
It’s also rumoured that the new stores will be too high-end (think Gucci) for the majority of residents to shop at.
HKR, however, is confident that its enhancement works will improve residents’ living standards and maintain the resort’s sustainability. “Over the past 30-plus years, every decade, we have introduced some new elements to the community.
We are trying to uplift and add more energy to the overall DB community. “We are a green community and the project has added 3,000 squarefeet of landscaped space around the bus terminus. The waterfront promenade near the ferry pier is also undergoing a facelift.”
Some residents, however, are concerned that HKR’s plans for improvement and expansion will damage the quality of life in DB.
The project has created 3,000 square-feed of Landscaped space
From the beginning, when HKR announced the proposal for the new bus terminus in 2016, Amy Yung, DB’s representative on the Islands District Council, has been concerned about the impact it will have on the number of tourists visiting DB. “The commercial area underneath the new bus terminus will bring along yet more tourists,” she says. “I don’t know whether this will affect the tranquillity of our life.”
Meanwhile, HKR is adamant that the developments are planned purely to benefit residents: “The primary focus is to enhance the overall environment of the DB community. Visitors are not a key target for us.”
Tags: bus, bus terminus, renovation