Continual upgrades and computerisation see Hong Kong's trams glide into their second century of operation Hongkong Tramways (HKT) is taking on the challenge to apply sophisticated technology to further upgrade the service of one of the city's oldest transport systems. Marking its centenary this year, HKT has pledged to match and even surpass its efforts in striving for excellence in operation and service over the past century. Director and general manager Frankie Yick Chi-ming said the company had successfully pushed ahead with significant changes, particularly over the past 10 years, in the development of its operation. 'The control system has been modernised, shifting from electro-mechanical to electronic-computerised operation. This helps enhance the safety of service,' he said. An efficient driving system with strong safety backup was now well in place, he said. The tram company expects to further enhance its customer services with intensive training for employees, mainly drivers, to help improve their communication skills and fine-tune their mindset. Serving Hong Kong since 1904, the operator of the world's largest fleet of 163 double-deck trams has kicked off a series of commemorative events to celebrate its 100 years of tram service. These include the Centenary of Hong Kong Trams special stamp issue, launching the design of a special centenary logo highlighting the company's commitment to Hong Kong, drawing and photography competitions, a photo exhibition and free tram rides for charitable associations and tourists on antique trams. The A Hundred Years of Tram Service exhibition opens today until August 2 at Times Square in Causeway Bay. A highlight event, the Tramways' Centenary Party, will take place tomorrow at the same location to mark the special occasion, to be complemented with free tram rides on Centenary trams for the public. Hong Kong's first tram left the depot at 10am on July 30 in 1904. HKT has since continuously made efforts to upgrade its service, such as switching from single-deck trams to double-deck and transforming the single-track into a double-track network. The tram service runs between Shau Kei Wan and Happy Valley, Western and Kennedy Town covering a total of 122 stops along its 30km track. Despite strong competition from other public transport operations such as buses and the MTR, the tram service has an important role to play. It serves an average of 240,000 passengers daily. Mr Yick said HKT continued to offer Hong Kong people a convenient and safe alternative means of public transport, and was strongly committed to the community. The company would launch a state-of-the-art service regulation system to improve efficiency and reduce the average time people spent waiting for trams, he said. HKT will set up an electronic control centre to monitor and take care of the whole operating situation through a digital map placed in the trams. HKT has also been a pioneer - since the 1930s - in using trams as an advertising medium. At present, advertising accounts for about 15 to 20 per cent of the company's total revenue.