Lantau cable car to close for five months for renovations

Visitors to the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery will have to take either a bus or taxi as work is carried out

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 8:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 10:49pm

One of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, will shut down for five months from January to have its cables replaced.

Opened in 2006, the 5.7km cable car system on Lantau Island is set to see its wire ropes reach the end of their designed lifespan next year after a decade of operation, management said.

Visitors who wish to see the famed Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery will have to take a bus or taxi from Tung Chung Town Centre Terminus until the service resumes in June.

Although the cable car operator claimed the HK$80 million rope replacement project is a “normal and necessary process” for a bi-cable ropeway, some 50,000 tourists are expected to be affected during the period, based on current visitor numbers.

“We expect some reduction in visitation to Ngong Ping during the period,” Stella Kwan Mun-yee, managing director at Ngong Ping 360, a subsidiary of the MTR Corporation, said.

The operator’s revenue will take another hit after it saw an 11 per cent drop in visitor numbers to 1.62 million last year amid the persisting tourism downturn.

About 20 stores in Ngong Ping Village Fair are expected to see fewer customers during the replacement period. But Kwan said the company will offer some “operational relief” to affected tenants in order to alleviate their financial pressure.

Other than the suspension of the cable car service, the popular Ngong Ping Rescue Trail, which is under the Lantau ropeway, will also be closed to the public during the replacement, according to Weller Chan, project manager of the cable car system.

“Ngong Ping 360 sincerely apologises to any affected guests, the public and stakeholders,” Chan said.

He said the construction time was proposed to avoid the city’s typhoon season, even though this meant it would miss one of the key tourist seasons during the Lunar New Year holiday in January.

The cable car system’s wire rope will be replaced by new ones imported from Italy and Switzerland – expected to last another 10 years, Chan said.

During the five-month period, the cable car operator will launch guided tours at HK$150 per person through a subsidiary travel agency, so visitors can still continue to explore Lantau.