Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s-eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers.
Enthusiasts and others have been rushing for one last ride before the Peak Tram closes for renovations. The tram will stop service on Monday for a six-month makeover, in part to reduce waiting times for the growing crowds.
Cedric Yu, who said he hadn’t ridden the tram for years, called it a collective memory for Hong Kong people and part of the city’s history. “Taking the Peak Tram just now reminds me of my childhood memories,” he added.
The Peak Tram started operations in 1888, when Hong Kong was a British colony, to transport people up Victoria Peak instead of using sedan chairs. The original carriages were made of varnished timber and seated 30 passengers in three classes.
Since then, the tram has undergone several makeovers. The current fifth-generation Peak Tram, with a burgundy exterior and varnished wood interiors, began running in 1989 and carries 120 passengers.
“The Peak Tram … has evolved and transformed itself from an essential mode of transport to a very popular tourist attraction in Hong Kong,” said May Tsang, general manager of Hong Kong Peak Tramways.
The company is investing over 700 million Hong Kong dollars ($90 million) to upgrade the system, the tram cars and renovate the terminus, she said.
Longer trams cars will boost capacity from 120 passengers to 210.
For Alan Cheung, a former president of the Hong Kong Collectors Society and a Peak Tram enthusiast, the makeover is welcome.
“Anything that can survive for over 100 years – that is not easy,” he said. “They must keep this treasure.”