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Old March 30th, 2014, 10:56 AM   #361
hkskyline
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The best way to experience Hong Kong?
Climb aboard one of its iconic trams

26 March 2014

Editor's note: Coinciding with the annual Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament (March 28-30) CNN is profiling parts of Hong Kong in a special series.

(CNN) -- Ding, ding.

Passengers lean back as a Hong Kong tram -- affectionately called "Ding Ding" by locals -- signals its slow approach to the station.

One by one, riders board through the doors at the back and struggle to pass through the narrow turnstiles.

Jammed bags are a common sight.

The tram slowly rolls back into action, cruising through the middle of traffic in some of Hong Kong's busiest neighborhoods, just as it has for 110 years.

"The tram is such an icon of Hong Kong because it's closely associated with the big events that have happened here over the last century," says Emmanuel Vivant, director and general manager of Hong Kong Tramways.

"The tram has continued its service and accompanied the city through times good or bad. Thus it's very intimately connected to its people."

Often lacking an on board passenger information system or uniformed station staff, Hong Kong's trams can be intimidating for rail virgins.

But they're worth figuring out.

Namely because they're a fantastic way to get to know the city.

"Trams run along some of the best parts of Hong Kong," says Vivant.

"It's in the middle of the road with a vantage point [if you sit on the upper deck of the tram]. They travel at a relatively low speed, so you have time to take the views in.

"Inside the tram, you enjoy a special atmosphere, even poetic.

"A lot of cities in the world had replaced their tram networks with cars and buses by the 1950s before realizing the importance of the tram in the 1970s. They then rebuilt the tram networks, but it's different. So Hong Kong is very, very lucky to have the (older) tram in this sense."

How to ride the tram

Hong Kong's tram stations usually sit in an "island" in the middle of the street, though a few are on the side of the road.

Stops are marked by stand-alone green signs.

The tram line runs 30 kilometers on Hong Kong Island, stretching from Kennedy Town on the western end of the line to Shau Kei Wan on the eastern end.

It runs in only two directions -- eastbound and westbound -- but some routes go further than others.

It's really quite simple.

First, decide which direction you're heading.

Then, look for the tram that goes to or beyond your station. There is a map at the stops.

For example, if you're in Central and want to go to Causeway Bay, all eastbound trams -- those going to North Point, Shau Kei Wan and Causeway Bay -- stop at Causeway Bay station, with the exception of the one going to Happy Valley.

Boarding is through the rear door -- passengers don't pay until they exit through the front.

The fare is HK$2.30 (about 30 U.S. cents per ride), regardless of the length of the journey.

Fares can be paid with cash or by swiping one of Hong Kong's all-purpose Octopus cards inside the tram.

For comparison's sake, it costs more than 50 U.S. cents for a one-stop ride on the more commonly used MTR.

QR codes are posted at most stations, allowing passengers to find out the time of the next three arriving trams.

The longest possible tram ride takes around 90 minutes.

Here are a few tram highlights.

Chun Yeung Street, North Point

"My favorite section is the loop at the terminal in North Point," says Vivant.

This route, which actually terminates at North Point, is the only section of a tram route that runs through the middle of a wet market.

"The wet market on Chun Yeung Street used to be less organized and vendors would have their stalls set up in the middle of the tramway," says Eric Lee Tsun-lung, founder of tram fan club Hong Kong Trams Enthusiast and the mini-tram cultural museum, Hong Kong Trams Station.

"When I was young, the tram came and honked 'ding, ding' and the vendors moved to the sides with their stuff before resuming their original position as the tram left," says Lee.

Nowadays, vendors don't set up in the middle of the tracks.

Stalls can be found on both sides of the street though, meaning shoppers can often be seen zipping from one side the other, dodging trams in the process.

Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan

On the western side of Hong Kong Island, Des Voeux Road West is packed with dried seafood shops, giving it the nickname "Dried Seafood Street."

"If you go to the Dried Seafood Street in the late morning or early afternoon, you can see something very interesting -- shop owners laying large sieves of dried scallops and salted fishes on the side of the road for sun drying," says Lee. "Some even manage to steal a spot on the roof of the tram station."

In addition to Des Voeux Road West and Chun Yeung Street in the east, Vivant says it's worth taking time to ride the whole route.

"There's the historical area in Sheung Wan, the business center in Central, the commercial center in Causeway Bay and the less eye-catching parts of the east of Hong Kong Island," he says. "It gives you a good idea of all different sides of Hong Kong."

The gallery above has more tram route suggestions.

Tram 120, the oldest running tram

Vivant says Hong Kong Tramways is looking at dedicating a special car for tourists.

In the meantime, there are now 163 trams in operation, each with a different number on the front.

Choosing which one to ride requires special knowledge -- not because of where it goes, but because of its history.

"My favorite is model 120, the only tram built in the 1950s that survives till now," says Lee.

Most of its features are well preserved, including its woven bamboo benches on the upper deck.

"There is only one worker left in the company who knows how to weave these benches," says Vivant.

"There are also two 'party trams' for hire privately, models 28 and 128. Car 128 is our second oldest tram."

Millennium Trams are cars built in 2000 -- models 169 and 170.

"The former management company launched three at that time, hoping it would be the future of Hong Kong trams," says Lee. "But (the cars) were heavily criticized by the public as they look too new, too much like a bus. So they scraped the idea."

Future of the tram

There are about 30 tram cars built after 2010 now in operation, known as seventh generation trams.

"Most of the public hopes that the tram remains how it is, whereas frequent travelers want it to be more comfortable and modern," says Vivant.

"To answer this contradiction, the exterior of the tram shares the same shape as the old tram but it's almost 100 percent new inside. Apart from the wheels or controllers that we reuse sometimes. These are over 80 years old."

Tram cars are now made of aluminum instead of wood, so they're more durable.

New trams have passenger information systems, more handles and new engines.

"Without government subsidies, we have to stay competitive and offer 21st-century service to our passengers," says Vivant.

"It's not commonly known, but we are now 100 percent made in Hong Kong with 150 workers in production and maintenance. We are hoping to use our skills to help other cities rebuild their tram networks."

A four-day tram pass can be purchased on Hong Kong Tramways' website for HK$37 ($4.80); private hire from HK$880 per hour ($113).

Hong Kong Trams Station: Shop no. 18, Level 2, The Peak Galleria
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Old March 30th, 2014, 05:30 PM   #362
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By mc_ruby from a Hong Kong transport forum :



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Old June 6th, 2014, 01:43 PM   #363
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By Nelsonwblaw from dcfever :

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Old June 21st, 2014, 08:29 AM   #364
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By Signalman from dcfever :

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Old August 28th, 2014, 08:27 PM   #365
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By ringo177155 from dcfever :

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Old September 18th, 2014, 04:08 PM   #366
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Old January 27th, 2015, 07:18 PM   #367
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Old March 5th, 2015, 06:58 PM   #368
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Old March 12th, 2015, 08:16 PM   #369
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Tram passengers down 10pc after opening of MTR West Island line
4 March 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt

The number of passengers using trams has dropped by 10 per cent to an average 180,000 a day since the opening of the MTR's West Island line two months ago.

Hong Kong Tramways revealed the figures in the face of direct competition from the new extension from Sheung Wan station to Kennedy Town, which overlaps its services on the tracks.

Managing director Emmanuel Vivant said increasing tram fares would be the "last resort" and instead the company would first optimise resources to reclaim passengers, reduce costs and generate new revenue sources.

However, Vivant stressed the "essential threat" the 110-year-old tram service faces is not from the MTR, but road congestion.

With the planned opening of the Central-Wan Chai bypass at the end of 2017, he said the government should give more priority to tram and bus services as the traffic pressure on roads would be relieved.

"We hope we can get some support to make sure trams can run at a reasonable speed and the service can remain reliable," Vivant said.

"It means more tracks on the lanes and adjusting traffic signals to restore some of the speed that we have lost over the years."

Vivant also said the company was working with Chinese University on designing a new tram dispatch system to minimise passenger waiting times and enhance its competitiveness.
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Old March 28th, 2015, 06:39 PM   #370
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Old April 25th, 2015, 07:02 AM   #371
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By 晚秋之语 from a Chinese photography forum :





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Old April 26th, 2015, 03:33 PM   #372
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Ding ding ding
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I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones

A.Einstein

Public transport is the way to transportation revolution

A MAYOR of Bogota is reported to have said: “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.”
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Old April 28th, 2015, 05:32 AM   #373
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sad to say that when I visited Hong Kong in 2010, I wasn't able to enjoy the tram ride properly since I got affected by the extremely high density urban layout.....kinda claustrophobic.
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Old April 29th, 2015, 10:04 AM   #374
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visited in 2007 and enjoyed the trams,
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Old May 4th, 2015, 02:38 PM   #375
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Old May 12th, 2015, 05:27 PM   #376
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Central pollution levels are double WHO limit: study
12 May 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Friends of the Earth calls for public transport to get priority as particle count soars in rush hour

Levels of tiny particles polluting the air in Hong Kong’s Central business district are 104 per cent higher than the World Health Organisation safety standard during evening rush hour, according to a new study that links traffic jams with higher pollution.

While the amount of the pollutant PM2.5 emitted by private vehicles is relatively lower than by buses, it accounts for more than 40 per cent of all particulates from vehicles on Des Voeux Road Central during the busiest periods. Private cars clogging up traffic in turn caused higher levels of PM2.5 to be emitted from buses, the study found.

Using PM2.5 readings taken from monitoring devices fitted onto trams, the year-long data shows readings of PM2.5 reaching 51ug/m3 from 7pm to 8pm – which is more than twice the limit set by the WHO at 25ug/m3.

“Even though the data is collected on trams, the air quality affects everyone in that area; not just tram-riders, but also those on the streets and especially those working there,” said environmental affairs officer Adrien Chan Kam-cheuk from Friends of the Earth, which conducted the study.

The higher readings during the rush-hour period from 6pm to 8pm were made worse by traffic congestion – of which private vehicles were the main cause, said Chan.

Private vehicles block bus stops and occupy tram tracks, slowing traffic. Due to the nature of bus engines, slower travelling speed increases tailpipe emissions, which leads to the worsening of roadside air quality.

Between 6pm and 7pm, an average of 298 private vehicles, 160 buses, 136 taxis and 31 trams use Des Voeux Road Central.

Friends of the Earth is calling for public transport to be given priority in using roads.

“Even though buses emit more pollutants, they are more efficient and perform a public service,” said Chan.

In contrast, private vehicles are inefficient because they have limited carrying capacity while taking up road space. There are only 0.4 passengers in each private vehicle or taxi for each unit of road length occupied, compared with 3.9 passengers on buses and trams.

The concern group’s assistant environmental affairs manager, Melonie Chau Yuet-cheung, called on the government to encourage public transport and minimise traffic congestion.

“It is ironic that zero-emission transportation like trams ends up suffering from pollutants from other vehicles,” said Chau. “It’s also discouraging – they may consider putting in air conditioning in order to make it better for the passengers.
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Old May 26th, 2015, 01:51 PM   #377
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Old July 12th, 2015, 11:54 PM   #378
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Old July 18th, 2015, 08:01 AM   #379
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"If you're willing to accept streetcars, then Hong Kong is still running rebuilt cars from the 1950s (older cars from the 1930s have been scrapped)," Gilles said.
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Old August 7th, 2015, 08:23 PM   #380
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