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Old August 18th, 2015, 04:40 AM   #381
hkskyline
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Is the government slowly killing Hong Kong Tramways?
17 August 2015
Hong Kong Economic Journal Excerpt

It's been more than 110 years since Hong Kong Tramways first rolled out its electric trains on the streets of Hong Kong island in 1904.

Connecting the eastern and western sides of the island, the mass transport system has witnessed the city's transformation from a local port to a cosmopolitan city and international financial center.

The tram, aside from being one of the earliest forms of mass transport in the territory, has also become a tourist attraction.

Though much faster mass transport systems have emerged, and some people now consider it a slow, antiquated vehicle unfit for the frenzied pace of life in a modern metropolis, it remains a part of our living heritage.

We should be proud of it, and maintain it.

So it comes as quite a shock to learn that a consultancy firm called Intellects Consultancy Limited is urging the Town Planning Board to remove the trams from the streets of Central to ease the traffic congestion in the district.

While the firm is not suggesting that the entire tramway operation be terminated, its proposal to cut its service line would lose its role as a transport system linking the eastern and western ends of the island.

Many observers believe that the suggestion made by Intellects Consultancy is groundless since the main reason for the traffic congestion in Central is the congregation of private and business vehicles in the central business district as well as the rising number of public buses that enter the area.

In fact, the tramway has become a victim of traffic congestion as cars and buses often occupy its tracks, obstructing its routes and delaying its service.

According to the consultancy firm's submission, the tramway's function of linking the east and west of the island has been taken over by the MTR since it inaugurated its Island Line.

It also noted that the tramways' tracks and stops occupy around 30 percent of the road of Des Voeux Road in Central.

Therefore, removing the tramways from the streets of the central business district would greatly enhance the transport efficiency of the road from Admiralty to Central.

The tramway's continued existence has been challenged since the Hong Kong government adopted a "railway first" policy, which makes the MTR the city's dominant mode of mass transport.

The tramway has been suffering a steady decline in patronage, with the number of passengers declining by 10 percent to an average of 180,000 a day since the MTR West Island Line opened two months ago.

But amid the serious challenge posed by the MTR and other transport systems, the tramway company, which has been acquired by Paris-based Veolia Transport, continues to seek ways to improve its service and efficiency.

Such initiatives would be for naught if the government continued to pursue a mass transport policy that would allow the unchecked growth in the number of vehicles in the central business district and take the tramways out of the streets.

The least that urban planners could do is allow the tramways to use its own tracks and not be blocked by motor vehicles that can easily gain right of way.

The rest : http://www.ejinsight.com/20150817-is...kong-tramways/
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Old August 18th, 2015, 02:48 PM   #382
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I love the tramway, but I never quite understood how it could survive, when the MTR covers the exact same area almost entirely .

Of course, the tram has less distance between stops, and some coverage in areas not served as well by MTR. They should capitalize on this. Why not extend the tramway to Siu Sai Wan via Chai Wan? That way quite some new area is being covered that isn't as well connected by MTR, and the tram can serve as a feeder line for MTR Chai Wan Station.
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Old August 18th, 2015, 03:05 PM   #383
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Apparently, it is useful but not very useful.
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Old August 18th, 2015, 03:19 PM   #384
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly_Walks View Post
I love the tramway, but I never quite understood how it could survive, when the MTR covers the exact same area almost entirely .

Of course, the tram has less distance between stops, and some coverage in areas not served as well by MTR. They should capitalize on this. Why not extend the tramway to Siu Sai Wan via Chai Wan? That way quite some new area is being covered that isn't as well connected by MTR, and the tram can serve as a feeder line for MTR Chai Wan Station.
Actually, for short trips during the lunch hour, trams are faster than going downstairs to the MTR and finding your way up again.
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Old August 20th, 2015, 04:35 AM   #385
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Tram buffs work fast to keep ride on track
The Standard Excerpt
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tram lovers have launched an online campaign to thwart a controversial proposal to scrap services between Admiralty and Central.

Hong Kong Trams Enthusiast started a one-week online campaign "one person, one photo in support of tram service" asking supporters to upload their photos while taking trams on Facebook and Instagram.

More than 100 have so far signed the petition.

Chairman Eric Lee Tsun-lung said on Facebook that about 200,000 people take the tram every day.

"Hong Kong people grew up with trams. It is the most environmentally friendly, economic and cost-efficient transportation," he said.

And the trams are an icon, Lee added.

"National Geographic Channel described trams as legendary," he said. "We don't want to see tram services ending in our generation, nor a Hong Kong icon being destroyed."

Some supporters are concerned trams will not be able to return to the Sai Wan garage if the line between Admiralty and Central is removed.

The group will submit the photos to the Town Planning Board.

The head of Intellects Consultancy, Sit Kwok- keung, a former senior town planner with the Planning Department, had earlier submitted a proposal to the board suggesting the route between Central and Admiralty be scrapped to ease traffic congestion.

He said the newly launched West Island MTR line could completely replace tram services and removing the tram lines could free 30 percent of Des Voeux Road.

Sit said if the board agrees, the Transport Department may consider canceling all tram services with Hong Kong Tramways. He said he disagreed with giving tram culture a higher priority.

But an administration spokesman clarified that the proposal is made by neither the government nor a consultancy it commissioned.
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Old August 20th, 2015, 06:51 PM   #386
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By ming-lau from dcfever :

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Old August 24th, 2015, 06:54 PM   #387
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Old August 25th, 2015, 07:40 PM   #388
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Ex-planner sticks to line on ditching tram
The Standard Excerpt
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A retired Planning Department official insists the iconic Hong Kong tram should be scrapped and consigned to a museum as it is inefficient and wastes public resources.

Sit Kwok-keung stirred up a hornet's nest when he proposed to the Town Planning Board that the tram service from Jubilee Street in Central to Arsenal Street in Admiralty be eliminated to ease traffic congestion in the area.

But what he was really thinking is the whole 111-year-old tram line on Hong Kong Island should be mothballed.

"I just picked the route between Central and Admiralty," Sit, 61, head of Intellects Consultancy, told The Standard yesterday.

"Hopefully, the government can start [giving up trams] from this part and gradually to the whole line."

Sit said he was trying to remind the government to review surface transportation, as the MTR can connect east and west on Hong Kong Island. With bus lines rerouted, trams should be next.

Sit believes that the tram line completely duplicates the MTR's Island Line, but trams are much slower and carry much fewer passengers.

And he believes the government had studies to show the MTR would be better than trams when discussing the railway project in the past.

"If trams are efficient, why do we need the MTR?" he said.

But Hong Kong Tramways managing director Emmanuel Vivant told TVB yesterday that traffic is to blame for the slow tram ride.

The tram can run from 10 to 45 kilometers per hour, but "the key factor that is impacting the speed is traffic congestion," which has worsened in the past five years.
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Old August 26th, 2015, 02:46 PM   #389
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By Buccaneer from dcfever :

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Old August 27th, 2015, 05:27 PM   #390
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Some of my photos while visiting HK last month

Hong Kong Tramways by Adriansyah Yasin, on Flickr
Hong Kong Tramways by Adriansyah Yasin, on Flickr
Hong Kong Tramways by Adriansyah Yasin, on Flickr
Hong Kong Tramways by Adriansyah Yasin, on Flickr
Hong Kong Tramways by Adriansyah Yasin, on Flickr
Hong Kong Tramways by Adriansyah Yasin, on Flickr
Hong Kong Tramways by Adriansyah Yasin, on Flickr

Interiors
Hong Kong Tramways by Adriansyah Yasin, on Flickr

With route map
Hong Kong Tramways by Adriansyah Yasin, on Flickr
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Old August 28th, 2015, 08:36 AM   #391
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Hong Kong Economic Journal Excerpt
Aug 24, 2015
Some technocrats are losing touch with reality

Sit Kwok-keung recently tabled his submission to the Town Planning Board seeking to remove the tram line between Admiralty and Central to increase the road space by 30 per cent, so as to ease traffic congestion.

The retired government town planner and founder of the consultancy firm Intellects Consultancy Ltd. said on a radio show it is probably faster for him to walk from Central to Admiralty than to take the tram.

His remarks immediately sparked an uproar among the public.

The saga is a classic example of how some longtime civil servants with a rigid and outdated mindset have been getting increasingly out of touch with mainstream public sentiment.

Sit argued that the tram is not only slow and inefficient but has completed its historical mission, so it’s time to get rid of it.

He said people favor keeping the tram not because they need it but rather out of nostalgia.

Those who are opposed to Sit’s views argued that the tram is a century-old icon of Hong Kong Island and therefore should be preserved.

There are many major cities around the world that rely on trams to provide an affordable, sustainable and environment-friendly mode of public transport.

Sit’s critics believe that it is the ever-increasing number of vehicles on the road, as well as illegal parking of luxury cars and trucks during rush hour, rather than the tram, that are causing traffic congestion.

When Hong Kong’s economy began to take off in the 1960s and ’70s, boosting economic activity in the city became the main concern of government planning.

Since then, the kind of mindset adopted by Sit, which sees efficiency and cost effectiveness as a top priority, has been typical among mid-level and high-level technocrats in the government.

This kind of mindset dictated how community facilities were planned and new towns were built.

Simply put, everything basically was designed to cater for the needs of economic development.

For example, when planning a new town, what comes to the mind of government officials first is often the design of the road network and then the layout of commercial and residential areas.

Other public amenities that don’t serve much economic purpose but are required under the Hong Kong planning standards and guidelines — such as recreational facilities, parks, public open space and green-belt areas — are usually given the lowest priority.
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Old August 29th, 2015, 06:46 AM   #392
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Old September 6th, 2015, 06:29 AM   #393
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Ding ding: tram lovers enter the fight
The Standard Excerpt
Tuesday, September 01, 2015

At least 3,000 tram lovers have signed a petition to keep trams on Hong Kong Island and for Des Voeux Road to be a pedestrian-and-tram-only zone.

Clean Air Network chief executive Kwong Sum-yin hopes that more people will sign the petition campaign, launched on August 20 and which ends on Friday.

The Planning Department has so far received more than 15,000 opinions from the public and most of them hope to keep the trams.

The Save the Tram Alliance of several green groups organized the campaign.

Friday is the deadline for comments to be made on a proposal to the Town Planning Board by former planning department official Sit Kwok-keung to remove trams.

In the petition, the alliance points out that trams represent valuable collective memories for Hongkongers. It accuses those who illegally park of causing traffic congestion, saying trams are victims of the congestion.

The petition said the priority of pedestrians is often ignored in the development of road networks.

There is a global trend toward using trams, Kwong said.

She believes that a tram with two decks will be more efficient than private cars, which usually carry only one or two passengers.

The petition also urges the Transport and Housing Bureau to turn Des Voeux Road into a pedestrian and tram zone.
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Old September 7th, 2015, 07:35 PM   #394
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Old September 12th, 2015, 06:33 AM   #395
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Hong Kong real estate group backs plan to give Central road to pedestrians
9 September 2015
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Momentum has been gradually building in business and environmental protection groups for fresher air and better urban planning in Hong Kong's central business district.

Ivan Ko Kwong-woon, the chairman of the Hong Kong chapter of the China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber backed the proposal by the city's green groups to make a section of a major thoroughfare in Central off-limits for vehicular traffic.

"The proposal will give fresh air to Central and a safer environment for pedestrians. With a better environment, businesses will improve in the area," Ko said.

Under the proposal submitted by the Clean Air Network, the Conservancy Association, Designing Hong Kong and Friends of the Earth, the lanes adjoining either side of the tram tracks along a one-kilometre stretch of Des Voeux Road Central - from Pedder Street to Morrison Street - would be set aside for pedestrian use only.

The centre strip would still be open for trams and environmentally friendly buses. The rezoning proposal has been submitted to the Town Planning Board.

"We will take a proactive role in lobbying landlords in the area to support the change. A better environment will improve businesses. For example, we can have outdoor cafes along the street," Ko said.

The idea of bringing food trucks to the city's streets, initiated by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, could materialise if the proposal went ahead, he said.

But Ko said the chamber did not agree to keep clean buses in the section. "It will affect traffic in the section," he said.

According to the proposal, the rezoning will not result in serious traffic jams in Central, given that the government is making huge investments to improve the city's transport infrastructure, including the recently opened MTR West Island Line and the upcoming launches of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass, the MTR South Island Line and the Sha Tin-Central railway line.

A similar idea of allowing pedestrians and trams to use roads in Central was first initiated by the Hong Kong Institute of Planners in 2000.
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Old September 22nd, 2015, 03:11 AM   #396
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Groups in single drive for Central pedestrian zone
The Standard Excerpt
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A new alliance has applied for Des Voeux Road Central one of the busiest roads in the financial district to be pedestrianized.

The move was made by the Des Voeux Road Central Initiative, a collaboration between Clean Air Network, Designing Hong Kong, Friends of the Earth (HK) and Hong Kong Public Space Initiative.

The new group hopes to see the four-kilometer road become a tram and pedestrian precinct from Pedder Street, Central, to Western Market on Morrison Street, Sheung Wan.

It has made its application to the Town Planning Board.

Spokeswoman Kwong Sum-yin said the move would not only reduce pollution but also make the road more accessible to the public.

Kwong said business and property companies nearby, such as the Lan Kwai Fong Group and Knight Frank, support the idea.

Benson Poon Fu-kit, a member of the Hong Kong Institute of Planners, which backs the pedestrian zone, said the body has held three meetings with the transport and housing, environment, and development bureaus on tits proposal to revitalize Central, which was released in April last year.

"The first proposal for a pedestrian precinct in Central was drafted by the HKIP in 2000 but rejected by the government," Poon said. "In 2014, the HKIP worked with City University and other think-tanks to update the proposal, which then attracted the government to contact us again showing positive feedbacks.
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 11:02 AM   #397
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Staying on track: Hong Kong town planning board rejects proposal to remove trams
South China Morning Post Excerpt
Friday, 23 October, 2015



A proposal to remove trams from Central to Admiralty was rejected at a meeting of the Town Planning Board today.

The application to do away with tram road usage in the Central District Outline Zoning Plan was presented to the board this morning. Planners questioned whether the proposal, submitted by retired planner Sit Kwok-keung, had enough evidence to support its claims.

This afternoon, the board announced that it had decided to reject the proposal.

“Your proposal is only half a page long. Have you done any assessment to back up your suggestion [of cancelling trams]? Any more objective and scientific assessment, and not just by impression?”asked board member and professor of architecture Ho Puay-peng. In reply, Sit answered: “No.”

The proposal would have amended the Approved Central District Outline Zoning Plan and eliminate mentioning ‘tram’ in its contents. It sought to remove trams from Des Voeux Road Central by Jubilee Street all the way to Queensway by Arsenal Street in Admiralty.

Upon its announcement in August, the plan triggered public outrage.

Senior town planner Jerry Austin said 22,385 public submissions were received to comment on the proposal, of which 98 per cent were against the proposal.

“Trams are an integral part of the transport network,” said Austin. “There is no proof that taking away trams would improve traffic congestion issues ... the main cause of traffic congestion is not the trams.”
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 02:02 PM   #398
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Staying on track: Hong Kong town planning board rejects proposal to remove trams
South China Morning Post Excerpt
Friday, 23 October, 2015
[...]said Jerry Austin. “There is no proof that taking away trams would improve traffic congestion issues ... the main cause of traffic congestion is not the trams.”
Yup. Trams transport people pretty efficiently. If you wanna reduce congestion look at the forms of transport that takes the most space per person transported.
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 02:16 PM   #399
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Since Sit Kwok-keung came up with his proposal, I have taken several trips with the tram to see if it was indeed such a 'relic from the past'.

I found it to be extremely useful, especially for short distances. Getting down to the MTR, and then back up from the following station can take quite a long time. Just hopping on the tram takes much less time, so even though its speed may be lower, you can still arrive faster. Stops were generally closer to where I needed to be. It was also very popular, mainly for locals, and the occasional tourist.

However, it was also a lot more uncomfortable and slower than it needed to be.

If you ask me, the popularity and convenience of the tram should actually warrant not a removal, but an improvement of the tram system. Some suggestions I have:

1. Fix the rail track. Currently there is a very large gap between the rail segments, causing the tram to go "clickety-clack" every few seconds, that you can not only hear, but feel in your spine. They should switch to continuous welded rail for a more comfortable ride.

2. Get the speed up. The maximum speed I recorded was 25 km/h. Generally it is much lower than that. I would be surprised if the average speed is above 10 km/h. I saw many cars, buses, taxi's and trucks obstructing the track. There needs to be a better separation between tram track and other traffic. Where a physical barrier is impossible, better enforcing should occur. Stops that aren't used a lot can be removed to increase the average speed, although this should be done with care, as one of the tram's selling points is its high density of stops.
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 02:58 PM   #400
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I've never even been to HK, but your ideas do make sense. And maybe it's time to get new rolling stock? It'd have to be double-decker tho and I don't think I've seen modern double-decker trams :/
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