Hongkongers and tourists to face steeper fares on the Peak Tram

Repairs, maintenance and sluggish patronage figures force operator to up ticket prices at one of the city’s biggest tourism drawcards

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 August, 2016, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 August, 2016, 10:55pm

Visitors to one of the city’s most popular attractions, the Peak Tram, will have to shell out more money for every ride from next month.

The operator of the tram announced yesterday that all fare types will receive an increase of up to 14 per cent from September 1.

Expenses including payroll, repairs and maintenance of the track foundations and slopes were all named by the operator as the reason for the increase. It is the first time that Peak Tram fares have been raised in five years.

A single ticket for adults will increase from HK$28 to HK$32, with return tickets revised from HK$40 to HK$45. Children and seniors tickets will rise from HK$11 to HK$12. Monthly tickets will increase to HK$540 for adults, and HK$270 for children and seniors.

The Peak Tram opened in 1888 and is one of the world’s oldest and steepest funicular railways.

Carting millions of people 260 metres up the steep terrain to Victoria Peak every year, the tram has also proven to be one of the city’s best tourism drawcards.

Patronage for the seven-minute journey up to the peak has increased steadily in recent years, from 2.3 million in 2007, to more than 6.36 million in 2015.

However, the business is feeling the pinch of Hong Kong’s tourism slump, which saw a 7.4 per cent decline in visitors to the city year on year at the end of June.

Revenue for the Peak Tram fell by 3 per cent in the first half of this year, compared to the same time last year, according to its parent company, Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, which also operates the luxury Peninsula hotel chain.

“Patronage declined slightly by 1 per cent in the first half of 2016, although we received record visitor numbers in the month of June which sets a good momentum for the rest of the year,” the firm stated in its 2016 interim results, released last week.

Despite the price increase announced yesterday, tourists remained confident that the tram pricing was acceptable.

Ji Young, a 23-year-old tourist from South Korea, was one of more than 200 passengers waiting for the Peak Tram at its Central terminus on Garden Road in the pouring rain yesterday.

“It is okay for me, as I have vouchers that can compensate the increase,” she said.

Mr Chang, a tourist from Taiwan echoed the acceptance of the increase, saying that the attraction was well worth the money.

“It is a must-do tourism attraction for Hong Kong and a once in a lifetime experience to take the Tram,” he said.

Ms Li from Jiangxi Province said that as a tourist, it was highly unlikely that she would take the tram more than once.

“So it doesn’t matter to me whether the ticket price has increased ten per cent or not.”