Hong Kong trams to keep fares at current level, but any increase next year depends on tourism revival, operator says

hong kong trams to keep fares at current level, but any increase next year depends on tourism revival, operator says

Fares on Hong Kong’s trams will not go up this year, but the service’s operator said a decision on an increase in 2024 depended on the recovery of the tourism industry.

Hong Kong Tramways’ new managing director Paul Tirvaudey on Monday said that last July’s adult fare increase of 15.4 per cent, up from HK$2.60 to HK$3 (38 US cents) for a ride had helped recovery amid a drop in passenger numbers and loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It had a positive effect, because it brought more revenue, and helped us to recover,” Tirvaudey explained.

hong kong trams to keep fares at current level, but any increase next year depends on tourism revival, operator says

Hong Kong Tramways managing director Paul Tirvaudey says tourists made up 15 to 20 per cent of passengers before Covid-19 hit the city. Photo: Jonathan Wong

But he warned business had not “fully recovered” and depended on the number of tourists who visited the city.

Tirvaudey said tourists made up 15 to 20 per cent of passengers before Covid-19 hit the city.

“We depend on the coming back of tourists,” he added.

Fares rose by 15.4 per cent for children as well last year, going from HK$1.30 to HK$1.50 for young riders. The fare for elderly people went up 10 cents to HK$1.30.

The monthly ticket rose to HK$260, up from HK$220, and the tourist ticket, which used to cost HK$34, ceased.

The trams, known as “ding dings” because of the distinctive sound of their bells, run along Hong Kong Island and were one of the earliest forms of public transport in the city, with a history going back almost 120 years.

hong kong trams to keep fares at current level, but any increase next year depends on tourism revival, operator says

General view of Tram passing Hennessy Road. Wan Chai. 26JUN23 SCMP/ Dickson Lee

Tirvaudey declined to give a figure on how many tourists were using the trams at present, but said the number of local passengers had returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The “TramOramic Tour”, targeted at tourists, will be reintroduced in September. It will feature up to six tours a day and will start at HK$150 per passenger.

The tour, from Western Market to Causeway Bay, was suspended in 2020 because of Covid-19.

The French-owned tram operator said it would also expand its e-payment system allowing 12 payment methods, including credit card and QR codes, to all trams by the end of June. Mainland Chinese tourists would be catered for with the addition of Ali Pay, as well as the other payment systems.

The e-payment system has been installed on 110 trams, with the remaining 55 expected to be completed by the end of the month.

There will be five days of free rides, from July 1 to July 5, designed to coincide with the celebration of the 26th anniversary of Hong Kong Kong’s return to Chinese rule.

Tirvaudey added that sponsorship helped to diversify revenue sources, with partners including Bank of China, which would underwrite a day of free rides.

Other free ride days were expected on October 1, as well as potentially in December over Christmas Eve.

There are about four to six new trams brought into service each year, and equipment is upgraded on a regular basis.

Hong Kong Tramways has served generations of Hongkongers and visitors since it was set up in 1904.

The service has been operated through a joint venture between RATP Dev and Transdev – two French-based public transport companies – since 2009.

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