The Hong Kong government said it has no plans to change the tram services under its current transport policy.
In response to a recent submission to the Town Planning Board to cancel the Central to Admiralty segment of the tram service, the government said in a statement on its website on Wednesday that the plan was submitted neither by the government nor by a consultancy it has commissioned.
In a recent submission to the Town Planning Board, Intellects Consultancy Limited sought to abolish the tram line between Central and Admiralty to ease traffic congestion in the central business district.
Sit Kwok-keung, owner of the consultancy firm and a retired government planner, said during a radio program that it is probably faster for him to walk from Central to Admiralty than to take the tram, Apple Daily reported on Thursday.
For over a century, the tram served its mission of connecting the eastern and western sections of Hong Kong Island, but that function has now been taken over by the MTR West Island Line, Sit said.
If tram lines are removed, Sit said at least 30 percent of road space can be increased along Des Voeux Road.
Sit said he believes authorities will soon talk with the tram operator about canceling the entire service.
Emmanuel Vivant, managing director of Hong Kong Tramways, said it was the first time he heard people calling for the cancellation of the tram service, adding that the government has yet to contact his company.
Extolling the virtues of the service, Vivant said trams are both convenient and environment-friendly, adding that it serves a social function by offering an affordable mode of public transport.
In fact, many countries are expanding their tram lines, he said.
Intellects Consultancy’s proposal has also sparked an uproar on the internet, with netizens expressing outrage and opposing the cancellation of the transport service.
Concern groups and local environmental organizations, such as Clean Air Network (CAN), Sai Wan Concern, The Conservancy Association and Friends of the Earth, have launched a petition campaign calling on citizens to write letters to the Town Planning Board by Sept. 4, the deadline for the collection of public views on the issue, to oppose to the proposal.
Representatives of the group said traffic congestion in Central is largely due to illegal parking and goods being loaded and unloaded on the streets, which in turn have slowed down the speed of trams.
The group urged the Transport and Housing Bureau to consider designating areas exclusively for pedestrians and trams.
– Contact us at [email protected]