(Photo Source: Time Out)
Now we lightly touched on why the tram was created, but let's dive a little deeper. As we mentioned, the Tram was largely born out of the want for convenience and one person, in particular, was able to seek that out and deliver. Scottish designer Alexander Findlay Smith, who was living on The Peak at the time, started searching for ways to easily ascend the steep mountain. To gain inspiration, he travelled around the world to places within Europe and North America. Luckily, afterward, he had the idea to develop the first cable funicular tramway in Asia.
As the city’s oldest form of transportation, it went through a lot of redevelopment to become what we know it to be today. In efforts to truly fit the needs of tram riders, the government has constantly been innovating and renovating the original design to make it something worth experiencing. Looking back, it really has come a long way. The original tram in 1888 was only able to seat 30 people on wooden seats situated at the front and rear of the carriage, while the center was reserved for first-class passengers, specifically government personnel and Peak residents, it was also originally powered through coal-fired steam boilers. Then in 1926, the steam boilers were replaced with an electrically powered system. From there the quality began to increase exponentially. Especially in 1956, when the seating capacity doubled from 30 to 62, and the wooden seats were replaced with lightweight metal carriages. Lastly, in 1989 the Peak Tram rebuilt its tracks, added a digital control system, and doubled seating capacity once again from 62 to 120 passengers. Now today, over 100 years later, and prior to Covid-19, the Tram was averaging about 2-6 million passengers a year.
Although the 5-minute zip to the top was already pretty comfy, like mentioned previously, Hong Kong wants to make it even better for riders. Since the Tram was experiencing heavy demand, resulting in long lines, an upgrade was announced in 2018 and is scheduled to be completed this year, 2021. Once again the seating capacity within the carriages will nearly double from 120 to 210 passengers. Additionally, the power system, cables, and rails will also be replaced, improving the safety of the rider’s journey. Moreover, not only are they altering the trip experience, but also the terminal where individuals wait to board by adding more space.
Overall, The Peak Tram is truly a memorable experience. Rising 13,000 feet (3962 metres) from the ground and even allowing the passengers to undergo an amazing visual illusion. As you ascend the high rises, on your right side buildings will appear to slant towards you, making the buildings seem to appear to be at a 4 to 25.7 degrees angle. Also, the Tram even has Wi-fi! This means you’ll be able to take and share pictures of your friends in the air instantaneously!
(Photo Source: The Peak Tower Limited)
So you might be wondering, “Ok this sounds wonderful, but how much does it cost and when can I go?”. The Peak Tram Runs from 7AM-10PM everyday, but there’s also another opportunity that wasn’t mentioned which is the Sky Terrace 428. The Sky Terrace is a platform at the top of the Peak Tower in the Victoria Gap that offers a 360° view of Hong Kong. It is also the highest observation platform in the city and provides such a beautiful sight. The Sky Terrace however is only open from 10AM to 9PM on Fridays, but 8AM to 9AM on Saturdays, Sundys, and public holidays.
Now the Tram and even access to the Sky Terrace is relatively affordable for the experience that it offers you. For the prices listed below, they are just the adult ones, but the Tram also offers a discount children’s and elder’s fare for those 3-11 or 65 and over. Also, if you just want access to the Sky Terrace and are prepared to take the hike it is only HK$ 52.
There are so many ways to reach the Peak Tram Lower Terminus, whether it’s walking, taxi, or even public transport. As for walking it is a pleasant way to sneak 10-15 minutes of exercise into your day and even see a few more Hong Kong landmarks. From the MTR Central Station, you exit through the J2 exit then walk up the ground level, turn right, through Chater Garden, cross Queen's Road Central, and make your way up Garden Road. Then you will pass the Bank of China Tower and Three Garden Road on your left and St John's Cathedral on your right. As for Taxi you just need to show the driver 33 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong or “中環花園道山頂纜車總站” and you’re there.
(Photo source: The Peak Tower Limited)
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