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LCQ20: Tram service during "Occupy Central" movement

     Following is a question by the Hon Tang Ka-piu and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (January 28):


     During the road occupation movement (occupation movement), some parts of the tramway along Yee Wo Street in Causeway Bay were obstructed, resulting in suspension of tram service between the east and west of the Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong Tramways Limited (HKT) has pointed out that the patronage of tram service during that period dropped as compared to previous years, and tram maintenance work was also affected as some of the tramcars could not return to the depot in the Western District. Some tram drivers have pointed out that the incident not only affected tram service but also caused their income to drop. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(1) the average daily (i) patronages, (ii) numbers of trips (iii) distances in kilometres travelled, as well as (iv) incomes from tram fares, in respect of the tram service during the three periods from September 1 to 27, September 28 to December 14 and December 15, 2014 till now; how such figures differ from those in the same period of the preceding year in terms of percentage points;

(2) as HKT has pointed out that during the occupation movement, some tramcars were taken out of service for safety reasons as maintenance of them could not be carried out, whether HKT had reduced the number of tram trips as a result; if so, of the number of trips so reduced and the resultant loss in fare income; whether HKT has indicated that it is under pressure to increase fares due to reduction in income;

(3) the respective numbers of tram drivers in each shift, and their average numbers of working hours and hours of overtime work each day during the three periods mentioned in (1); whether HKT had requested some of its staff members to take no pay leave during the occupation movement; and

(4) the additional expenses incurred by HKT for procurement of heavy-duty machines and cables wiring for the Sai Wan Ho Depot to facilitate tram maintenance work to be carried out there during the occupation movement, and whether HKT has plans to procure more machines for the depot, so as to ensure that tram maintenance work will not be affected by similar incidents in future?  


     During the "Occupy Central" movement, owing to the blockage of the tram track by protesters in Central, Admiralty and Causeway Bay, east-west tram service was interrupted and had to be operated in sections. Following the removal of obstacles in Causeway Bay by the Police on December 15, 2014, tram service has resumed normal.

     My reply to the various parts of the Hon Tang Ka-piu's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) According to information provided by the Hong Kong Tramways Limited (HKT), the average daily patronage, service frequency, mileage and fare revenue prior to, during and after the "Occupy Central" movement, and the corresponding year-on-year comparisons, are set out in Annex 1. HKT pointed out that only short-haul tram service (i.e. trips from Kennedy Town to Sheung Wan, from Shau Kei Wan to Victoria Park, and from Kennedy Town to Happy Valley since the re-opening of the tramway along Queensway) could be maintained during the "Occupy Central" movement. Tram journeys were therefore shorter than normal, resulting in a higher daily average service frequency. Yet, patronage and fare revenue, as shown in Annex 1, had both dropped.

     According to the HKT, although the company is still under pressure resulting from an increase in operating costs and a decrease in fare revenue, it has no plans to apply to the Government for a fare adjustment at this stage.

(3) According to information provided by the HKT, the average daily number of tram drivers on duty, their basic daily working hours and average daily overtime working hours during the three periods mentioned in Part (1) are set out in Annex 2. The operator advised that there was no change in the basic working hours of the tram drivers during the "Occupy Central" movement. It, however, needed to adjust manpower deployment with certain flexibility in response to partial service disruption. Similar to what would happen under normal situation, the HKT had reminded its staff that they might apply for paid or non-paid leave on their own accord. The operator would consider such applications flexibly. In doing so, the HKT had maintained close communication with its staff, and was appreciative of the understanding and support from the staff side.

(4) According to the HKT, given the need to carry out certain maintenance at the Sai Wan Ho Tram Depot that was essential for maintaining tram service during the "Occupy Central" movement, the operator has installed some equipment at an additional cost of about $200,000. As to whether it would procure more equipment, considerations must be given to the cost-effectiveness to do so and possible impact on the operating costs and tram fares. In case of large-scale incidents and public activities in future, the Transport Department and the HKT will keep in close liaison and implement appropriate contingency measures in the light of the actual situation, with an objective to maintain tram service as far as practicable to minimise the inconvenience caused to the passengers.

Ends/Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Issued at HKT 14:31


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