Happy happy ding ding? Hong Kong’s new-look trams offer more smiles per mile

Old logo, dating back to 1974, to be phased out over next two weeks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 1:10pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 11:35pm

The city’s iconic trams are displaying a new smiling logo as the operator looks to reshape its visual identity to attract more passengers.

Hong Kong Tramways’s managing director Emmanuel Vivant reassured customers on Friday that prices would not rise, although he admitted the firm was under pressure to increase fares – HK$2.30 per ride for adults – as it was struggling with rising costs.

“We haven’t raised fares for six years but many transport operators have increased prices this year. We are still thinking about it but so far we don’t have any plans yet to propose to the government,” he said.

The old design, which has been in use for 43 years, is being replaced on trams and signposts over the next two weeks.

The new logo showcases a double-decker silhouette with the shape of a green Bauhinia leaf in the background and a subtle smile on the bumper.

As part of the rebranding, three trams sporting a new look, complete with the logo and slogan “Catch a ride, Catch a smile”, hit the streets on Friday. Another 157 trams will display a smile on their bumpers for three months to represent Hongkongers’ happy collective memories of the vehicles, affectionately known as “ding dings”.

The streetcars are the city’s oldest form of public transport, with a history stretching back 113 years.

Vivant said the new logo was meant to better reflect the company’s values.

“We hope to develop an image that is closer to what we want to convey – iconic, caring, clever and convenient,” he said, adding that he hoped the new image would be more recognisable to passengers and tourists and help to boost their numbers.

The old logo, featuring blue and white tram tracks against a red background, was introduced by the former owner, property developer Wharf Holdings, when it bought the company in 1974.

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French transport giant RATP group acquired the firm in 2010 in a deal that stunned many diehard tram fans in the city.

Hong Kong Tramways runs 164 tramcars – the world’s largest fleet of double-deckers – and transports about 200,000 passengers a day.

It suffered a rare setback last month when a tram toppled over in Central injuring 14 passengers. The driver was arrested for dangerous driving.

“I would like to apologise to the victims again and the Hong Kong public for this accident. At this stage we are still conducting an internal investigation. We are taking some action to make sure that it won’t happen again,” Vivant said.