Rickshaw puller Hung Chiu-ping is the last man standing. The 63-year-old has been taking passengers along Hong Kong's streets for 30 years, but demand for the service has dwindled away. Now Hung is one of only two registered rickshaw licence holders in the city - and the other is understood to have called it a day. 'I'm the only one left,' he said. 'I'll keep working until I can't do it physically any more.' In 1924, almost 3,500 rickshaws were plying the streets. This fell to just under 1,000 in 1953 and by 1997 there were only seven holders of the government-issued licences. Hung works six days a week on The Peak, waiting for passengers with his hand-made vehicle near the Lion lookout pavilion. Dressed in cotton shoes, a straw hat and a black silk jacket with a mandarin collar, Hung walks with a spring in his step and is quick to crack a joke. Business has been slow in the past two years, he said, with customers less willing to part with the HK$20 it costs to take a photo on the rickshaw or the HK$100 for a short ride. Westerners are more likely to pay, Hung said, while most mainland tourists decline when he mentions the fee. Before the 1997 handover, he could easily make HK$600 in half a day. 'Now, I'm lucky to earn HK$200 to HK$300 a day. Sometimes it's just HK$100 or so,' he said. But that is not his sole income. Hung is also the proud owner of a fleet of rickshaws, which he parks at Pier 7 in Central. He hand-crafted each rickshaw, with the red wooden chassis and green fanned hood assembled at a Shenzhen workshop. For about HK$600 per hour, hotels rent the rickshaws for guests. Recently, a production company rented several for a television commercial. Hung also sells made-toorder rickshaws for about HK$10,000. He criticised the government for not preserving the cultural and historical significance of the rickshaw while recognising other aspects of heritage, such as the trams and the 'devil beaters' under the Canal Road flyover in Causeway Bay. Fung Chi-ming, author of the 2005 book Reluctant Heroes: Rickshaw Pullers in Hong Kong and Canton 1874-1954, says the rickshaw will soon become extinct. 'It's almost the end of an era,' Fung said. 'It's been allowed to die a natural death because it's no longer competitive as transport or as a tourist attraction.' Rickshaws in Guangdong were abolished after 1949, he says, because they were seen as a symbol of imperialism and capitalist exploitation, 'a nagging reminder of China's subjugation by the West'. 'For a long time, the rickshaw appeared on posters, postcards and souvenirs for tourists and during the Vietnam war, when many American servicemen used to come here for a holiday, the rickshaw pullers were quite well off, particularly in Wan Chai,' Fung said. But in the 1970s, tourism chiefs started removing rickshaws from their marketing material. A spokeswoman for the Tourism Board said the government stopped issuing licences in the 1970s. If there was enough demand from tourists for a rickshaw revival, the board would take this into consideration. A spokeswoman for the Transport Department said it still accepted applications for rickshaw licences, which cost HK$50 per year.