More public transport..

Submitted by Andrew Craig-Bennett on Sun, 05/30/2010 - 21:37

Hong Kong does have honest-to-goodness regular trams; they were introduced in 1905 so it has had them for over a century. They are "classic" British-style double deckers, picking up power from overhead cables and able to be driven from either end. Like the Star Ferry, they are amazingly good value. (flat fare HK$2 for an adult, pensioners and brats half price).Folklore maintains that you can't tell the age of a Hong Kong tram because like the road sweepers broom they are forever getting rebuilt, to more or less the same basic design. Actually they are not all exactly the same because there are a couple that you can charter for private parties. Great fun even if they are not the quickest way from A to B. Well, from Kennedy Town to Shau Ki Wan via Happy Valley, anyway.

Needless to say, the company is privately owned, though for the past 105 years the Government, as a condition of renewing its licence, has had the right to buy it every five years - never exercised.

Which leads us naturally onto the other great public transport bargain:

HK$ 2.2 first class, HK$1.70 second class.

Now, here is a curious thing: If you go First Class, you have to climb up the terminal stairs to the upper deck, in the sweaty heat, and pay fifty cents more for the privilege, whereas if you go Second class the ferry is just the same and you need not face the stairs.

I record this useful observation in memory of Captain Michael Parker, of the China Navigation Company, who pointed it out to me. Mike was an Aucklander by choice but, as you may have guessed, a Yorkshireman by birth....

The Star Ferry has been running since 1888.

Both the Star Ferry and the Hong Kong tram have been the cause of celebrated riots. The Tram riots of 1912 were caused by the trams refusing to accept Chinese currency; the Star Ferry Riots of the 1960's were a far more serious matter and we'll get to them presently.

Next, one of the world's more interesting airports, named after two property developers who leased a bit of the harbour and who almost went bust reclaiming it....


The star ferry fare has increased since Jan 1, 2010 and they now differentiate between weekdays and weekends;


Adult fares Monday - Friday HK$2.50  Upper Deck, HK$2 Lower Deck. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays HK$3 Upper Deck, HK$2.40 Lower Deck.

Child fares Monday - Friday HK$1.50 Upper Deck, HK$1.40 Lower Deck, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays HK$1.80 Upper Deck, HK$1.70 Lower Deck

wrt.HK trams, they're now owned by Veolia Transport and since the change the cost of a party tram has gone up significantly!

Also you can clearly see the differences between the older trams and the really ugly ones built in the 70's.

I think part of the deal on the fare increase was so they would start paying for the cleaner fuel.  The days of the huge black smoke belching from the ferries may finally be over.  Well worth the $3 I paid last night to come back from the Cultural Center in Kowloon.

By email:

It is nice to hear that those trolleys are still running, and on their tracks.  I was on them only a few times in the 1940's.

When passing another trolley, I recall, on the upper deck, that the passer went by without much clearance, especially were there to be a little bit of sidewise swaying.  As the windows could slide down to freshen the air, one needed to watch out in order not to lose an arm or a head.  Much to the point I recall a special panel among the adverts on the curved corner above the windows.  It said:

Don't lean your elbow out too far,
Or it might go home in another car!

Regards,   Don Ady