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Old May 25th, 2016, 02:51 PM   #441
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Old June 2nd, 2016, 02:41 PM   #442
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Cool ride: Hong Kong tram operator offers air-conditioned car
Three-month trial scheme meant to boost ridership amid hot weather
June 2, 2016









Hong Kong’s iconic trams are getting a timely upgrade as one car offers air conditioning to beat the scorching summer heat.

Starting next Monday, passengers will be able to hop on tram number 88, the trial car for the pilot scheme.

While the “cooler tram” is easily distinguishable by its light blue livery, passengers will need an ounce of luck to catch it as its timetable and routes are to be random, just like other tram cars.

Fares during the three-month trial will be the same as for non-air-conditioned cars.

Speaking at the launch event on Thursday, Hong Kong Tramways managing director Emmanuel Vivant said the upgrade was meant to address the company’s declining ridership in recent years.

Since the MTR’s West Island line came into operation in late 2014, around 180,000 trips daily were made on the century-old transport system, compared to 200,000 previously.

Senior engineering manager Steven Chan Si-yiu said three temperature settings of 23, 25 and 27 degrees Celsius would be used during the trial and that passengers would be surveyed either on board or online to find out which setting to adopt.

He revealed it costs HK$250,000 to retrofit an air-conditioning system in a car. The company did not rule out a fare hike if more air-conditioned cars were added in the future.

Apart from financial considerations, Chan said overhead power lines could only accommodate seven to eight air-conditioned cars in the network and that each car must be separated to avoid drawing too much electricity at one spot and bringing down the grid.
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Old June 4th, 2016, 10:04 AM   #443
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Old June 6th, 2016, 04:59 AM   #444
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I wonder does anyone remember back in the 1970's, some Hong Kong trams pulled a second, single-level car painted lime green (initially) right behind it. I think they were phased out due to the high maintenance costs.
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Old June 8th, 2016, 06:16 AM   #445
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Originally Posted by sacto7654 View Post
I wonder does anyone remember back in the 1970's, some Hong Kong trams pulled a second, single-level car painted lime green (initially) right behind it. I think they were phased out due to the high maintenance costs.
The single deck trailer was for first class passengers only but passengers preferred the upper deck first class compartment on the front double decker I suppose.
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Old June 22nd, 2016, 03:22 PM   #446
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Untitled by Guglielmo D'Andrea, on Flickr
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Old July 14th, 2016, 01:21 PM   #447
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As I thought has started already. I am not optimistic about Hongkong tram. In 2015 - following the opening of the West Island Line, daily tramway ridership drops 10% to 180,000. Metro is faster than tram, and today all have hurry, so there is no space for nostalgia and relaxing. If it continues, tram will start loss year by year, and one day it may be threatening to close. The same incident happened in my city Kolkata from 1980, when metro lines started construction; many tram routes which ran parallel with metro lines were closed.


Here is suggest to extend the tram network around Kai Tak Development, built on the vacated site of the former Kai Tak Airport, in place of the "Environmentally Friendly Linkage System" (monorail system) proposed by the Hong Kong Government. Possible extensions to neighboring places such as To Kwa Wan, Kowloon City and Kwun Tong were suggested. This place is not served by metro, so tram will be much profitable.
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Old July 14th, 2016, 07:18 PM   #448
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It is actually faster to use the tram for short trips of up to 2 MTR stations. Seems the French operators are still ploughing investments to improve the network.
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Old July 15th, 2016, 08:23 PM   #449
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Sunset Afterglow at Sheung Wan, Hong Kong by johnlsl, on Flickr
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Old July 20th, 2016, 06:37 PM   #450
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DSCF3790 Crowded Tram by H. Y. Scofield Chan, on Flickr
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Old July 24th, 2016, 10:47 AM   #451
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Old July 26th, 2016, 06:46 PM   #452
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Sunset in the tram by MY IP, on Flickr
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Old August 1st, 2016, 05:44 PM   #453
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Old August 5th, 2016, 09:24 AM   #454
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Old August 6th, 2016, 05:07 PM   #455
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Fixing ageing trams for a modern era
1 July 2016
Financial Times Excerpt

Hong Kongers treasure the 'Ding Ding', but buses and the metro offer stiff competition in a hectic city. Ben Bland reports

In a city with one of the world's best public transport systems, high-school student Cheung Ming-kit is spoilt for choice - from the fast, reliable metro, to air-conditioned buses and ferries. But several times a week, he likes to take the oldest of them all: Hong Kong's 112-year-old double-decker tram.

"I ride the tram whenever I feel stressed," says the 17-year-old.

Many Hong Kongers love the "Ding Ding" as the tram is affectionately known, named after the sound of the bell the driver rings to alert pedestrians. Rattling and swaying through the busy commercial districts of Sheung Wan, Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of this hectic city. While the tram's low fares matter to some Hong Kongers more than others, everyone appreciates the ability to hop on and off at stops every 250 metres.

But passenger numbers have been falling in recent decades as the public transport options for the city's 7m residents have expanded and the ageing tram network struggles to keep pace.Growing congestion is another problem. The tram does not have dedicated lanes, and the number of private cars on Hong Kong's roads increased by more than 25 per cent between 2010 and 2015. Private vehicles often block its path.

The network carried 500,000 people a day in the 1960s but that has dwindled to only 185,000 today as Hong Kong's ever improving metro system and plethora of buses tempt passengers away.

From the US to Europe and Asia, public transport systems struggle to turn a profit without government subsidies, because of the heavy capital investment and maintenance required, and political sensitivities around raising fares. With no government subsidy, fares fixed by the governmentat only HK$2.30 ($0.30) a ride and big investment required to keep the legacy network functioning, the Hong Kong tram is a tough business proposition.

"It's sometimes a challenge because the public expects us to keep the tram as it is," says Emmanuel Vivant, the Frenchman charged with keeping the tramson the rails. "On the other hand, we are a purely commercial operation . . . and daily commuters have very practical expectations."

Built by the British colonial authorities in 1904, Hong Kong Tramways eventually passed into French hands in 2010, when it was acquired by RATP Dev Transdev, a joint venture between the operator of the Paris metro and another French government-controlled transport group.

Mr Vivant, the managing director of Hong Kong Tramways and the Asia chief executive for RATP Dev Transdev, is trying to reverse the passenger losses by retooling the historic system for the modern era. The 35-year-old, who spent two years in China setting up a modern tram in Shenyang for the same company, has brought in improvements, including better scheduling, real-time arrival information delivered by smartphone and maintenance methods designed to reduce noise and disruptions.

"We do a lot of small changes, one by one, and we invest in the long term," says Mr Vivant, as he shows off the latest pilot innovation: an air-conditioned tram to protect commuters from Hong Kong's punishingly hot and humid summers.

At more than 6 feet tall, Mr Vivant has to crouch as he climbs to the upper floor. The tram cars are based on a design from the 1950s, when passengers were shorter. Headroom is only one of many legacy problems that RATP Transdev is struggling to overcome. Old power lines and electrical substations have the capacity to support only 10 air-conditioned cars on the network at one time - a tiny proportion of its 161 trams.

Mr Vivant says the recent improvements - including a new schedule based on detailed passenger usage data - have prompted a small increase in numbers. But his ability to reverse the long-term downward trend is limited by factors beyond his control, chiefly government fare caps and congestion.

Trams typically run at 16km per hour when there are no jams. But the average speed is only 8km per hour, down from 10km five years ago, because of an increase in cars, buses and traffic violations.

"That means our attractiveness is decreasing, our operating costs are increasing and our capacity is also decreasing," says Mr Vivant.

While the tram operator needs to keep investing, it has only been allowed by the government to increase fares twice since 1998. By contrast, the government-controlled metro operator - MTR Corporation - can raise ticket prices every year under an agreed formula.

Simon Ng, a transport expert at Civic Exchange, a Hong Kong think-tank, wants the government to support the tram by giving it more right-of-way. He has proposed banning cars from a key thoroughfare in central Hong Kong to make it only for pedestrians and trams.

"For short-distance journeys, the tram is as efficient as other transport modes because there are plenty of stops," he says. "The tram is also part of our heritage and I see real value for it to continue, but it's a victim of congestion."

All the trams are built and refurbished in Hong Kong and it is a costly process, says Mr Vivant as he shows off the main depot. It is a relic from a bygone age, with metal brake shoes, wooden seating slats and engine parts piled all over, and an original 1920s wheel lathe from Glasgow in one corner.

Mr Vivant says fares alone are not enough to cover expenses, and advertising keeps the tram in profit. The company declined to disclose its financials, but fares have not risen since 2011, during which time daily passenger numbers have fallen from above 200,000 a day.
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Old August 9th, 2016, 03:31 PM   #456
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Old August 14th, 2016, 06:19 PM   #457
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Hongkong Tramways fares may rise to pay for substation relocation
Tram operator has to leave Times Square substation by March 2018; move will cost HK$30 million
August 12, 2016

The company that runs the city’s iconic trams, known affectionately as “ding-dings”, may *have to increase fares in order to raise the HK$30 million needed to relocate its substation in Causeway Bay by 2018.

Emmanuel Vivant, managing director of Hongkong Tramways, said he would not rule out applying to the government to raise fares as the company was struggling with declining revenue and trying to foot the relocation bill.

“We haven’t made a decision yet but we are working on a five-year financial plan on how to meet this challenge,” Vivant said, *adding that the last fare increase happened more than five years ago, in 2011.

The tram company has to vacate its substation, which serves as a voltage converter in Times Square, before March 2018 at the request of the landlord.

Hongkong Tramways has identified two sites in Causeway Bay – one on Morrison Hill Road and another on Causeway Road – for the relocation as the company requires two separate substations to balance the trams’ power supply on two sides of the district.

Vivant said the Town Planning Board had already approved its application, but it still had to contend with the relocation expenditure of about HK$30 million, which included costs for upgrading the equipment and facilities there.

Another factor contributing to the company’s woes was a 17 per cent drop in passenger numbers over the past five years, from a daily average of 220,000 in 2011 to 185,000 passengers in June this year.

The opening of the MTR’s West Island Line to Kennedy Town last year triggered a 10 per cent decline in tram usage, while heavy traffic congestion contributed to a further drop of 7 per cent.

However, there has been a *rebound of 5 per cent in the number of *passengers over the past few months after the company implemented a scientific schedule to reduce the waiting time for the trams during peak hours.

The Pokemon Go craze has also boosted tram patronage as the vehicles travel at speeds slow enough to hunt for the virtual creatures.
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Old August 15th, 2016, 12:57 PM   #458
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The Pokemon Go craze has also boosted tram patronage as the vehicles travel at speeds slow enough to hunt for the virtual creatures.
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Old August 18th, 2016, 11:27 AM   #459
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Good point with that. Trams is the most efficiency during in-town with play the Pokemon Go.
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Old August 28th, 2016, 02:59 PM   #460
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