Confusion despite new notification system

Lilian Goh

The Ngong Ping 360 operators kept their promise yesterday to notify the electronic media of stoppages but still faced criticism that the message was confusing.

The Lantau cable car company agreed last week to notify the media whenever the service was expected to be delayed for at least 30 minutes. The pledge came amid a public outcry after seven delays since the cable car opened last month.

The new notification system faced its first test yesterday. At about 9.30am the cable car operator, Skyrail-ITM (Hong Kong), informed the electronic media there would be a delay after a routine daily check discovered technical problems. It said services could not start on time at 10am but the problem could be solved by about 11am.

But soon after 11am, it told the media the emergency repair was still under way. No expected opening hour was indicated.

The media was notified for the third time only when the cable car got back to normal at 2.20pm.

A spokeswoman refused to comment on the effectiveness of the new notification system but said management would regularly review and improve the service.

She said the operator had told government departments, the MTR Corporation and media of the problem as soon as possible. Announcements were also made to visitors waiting at the cable car station.

However, the deputy chairman of the Legislative Council's transport panel, Cheung Hok-ming, said the messages were confusing.

'The visitors originally thought there would only be an hour's delay, but it turned out to be more than four hours,' he said. 'Also, the cable car didn't say the reason for delay.'

Panel chairman Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said the root of the problem lay in the quality of service and urged the company to conduct a thorough review.

'Even if there is a good notification system, repeated delays are unacceptable. The management should ensure a good operation.'

The transport panel will hold a special meeting jointly with the economic panel next month to discuss the cable car problems.