Reopening draws double the number of original opening Almost 7,000 passengers took advantage of the first day of commercial operations of the relaunched Lantau cable car yesterday under a bright sunny sky, more than double the number who turned out for the attraction's opening 18 months ago. The last day of 2007 marked a new beginning not just for the cable car, but also tenants of the virtual ghost town of Ngong Ping Village, who have struggled to stay in businesses since a gondola plunged 50 metres during testing on June 11, forcing the cable car's closure. Some 6,900 visitors - including almost a dozen tour groups, holidaying students and mainland monks - flocked to the Ngong Ping 360 yesterday; two even pitched a tent overnight, braving temperatures that fell to 10 degrees Celsius yesterday morning, to ensure their place at the head of the queue at opening time. At Ngong Ping Village, the first queues in six months formed outside restaurants during lunch hour yesterday, and shops have seen a 30 per cent revival in business over the past week, when thousands of invited guests rode the cable car test runs. One of the two Form Five students who spent the night in a tent outside the cable car's Tung Chung terminus, Marcus Lee, said: 'We thought that as we would have to wait one way or another, why don't we just pitch a tent and wait overnight. However, there were not that many people.' His and fellow camper Howard Luk's efforts to be the first riders were almost thwarted when an elderly woman and her grandchild slipped in and bought the first tickets while they were packing up their tent. Luckily they were given the first ride when staff confirmed they had been waiting there the night before. MTR Corp chairman Raymond Chien Kuo-fung and chief executive Chow Chung-kong said they were satisfied with the turnout. However, revenue may not be as high as the numbers promised because a large percentage of passengers were seniors and young children, who rode free under a promotional offer. Mother of seven, Mrs Ng, took four children on the ride yesterday, saving more than HK$100 in fares for a single trip. Ngong Ping Village was packed yesterday but many businessmen were still reserved about prospects. The owner of a film processing shop, Tim Cheung Kwok-wah, said he was still trying to decide whether to continue his business after the lease expires in March. 'Visitors may be many but the income was not as attractive as many visitors are purchasing with cash coupons offered by the MTRC,' he said. Assistant marketing manager Fannie Lee Mei-sze of the Home of Swallow, closed since the incident, said they would monitor the situation for a week or two before deciding whether to reopen. 'So many things have happened in the past. We will wait for a while longer to see if the seemingly bright outlook is real or an illusion,' she said. Ngong Ping 360 managing director Morris Cheung Siu-wah expected more visitors to come today. The ride will start at 9am today, an hour earlier than usual, to cater for the expected crowds. Admission may close early if too many passengers are waiting to get on board. A spokesman said notices would be put up on MTR lines if queuing time was more than two hours. Riders would be informed of any delay of three minutes or more and broadcasts would be made in MTR interchange stations in case of emergency.