Ngong Ping 360

Mishap sees cable car numbers down

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 4:37am


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Ngong Ping 360 cable car last year drew the second-lowest number of passengers since it opened in 2006.

It carried just 1.36 million people last year, compared with 1.6 million in 2011.

Much of the drop was due to its closure for two months during the normally busy Lunar New Year period after 800 passengers were stuck in the gondolas for about 90 minutes in freezing conditions.

The 5.7-kilometre cable car route between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping was closed after vibrations triggered a sensor on the bullwheel, which winds the cable, bringing it to a halt.

The service's head of commerce and marketing, Stella Kwan, said the cable car carried its lowest number of passengers in 2007, when an empty cable car fell to the ground, deterring would-be riders.

Managing director Wilson Shao Shing-ming said that despite the fall in numbers last year the daily average was about the same as 2011.

In March, the company will replace the system's haul ropes to ensure safety, with further work to be carried out over three weeks in September.

Amid complaints of long queuing times, Ngong Ping 360 will introduce a mobile booking system.

It will allow people to know the exact time when they can board the service.

Some tickets would be reserved for walk-in passengers.

Kwan said the company would open an information centre at Ngong Ping Village - where the Big Buddha statue and Po Lin Monastery are - to serve visitors' needs.

Shao said fewer Hongkongers were now using the service, which is in its eighth year of operation.

"Most Hongkongers treat us as a mode of transport, while mainlanders and Westerners consider us a sightseeing service," he said.

The company said most non-mainland tourists came from Thailand and Australia.

Locals, mainlanders, other Asians and non-Asians each accounted for about a quarter of the clientele.