21 October 2016
In a 'Man vs Tram Race' in the early hours of Sunday, only about 10% of the runners were able to complete the journey faster than the vehicle. Photos: CNSA, Apple Daily
In a 'Man vs Tram Race' in the early hours of Sunday, only about 10% of the runners were able to complete the journey faster than the vehicle. Photos: CNSA, Apple Daily

Runners race against tram in campaign to preserve key route

More than 40 people raced against a tram in Hong Kong Sunday in a bid to disprove an argument from a former government planner that trams are too slow to serve as public transport in busy areas.

The group set off at 5:12 a.m. when the first tram of the day left the Catchick Street station for Happy Valley, Apple Daily reported.

At the start of the 8.6-kilometer journey, the tram stormed ahead briskly, leaving most of the runners trailing. When it reached Sai Ying Pun, runners caught up and even managed a slender lead as the tram had to halt at various stations.

However, the tram regained a lead by the time it reached Admiralty, leaving a majority of the runners behind.

The tram completed the journey in 38 minutes, and only four out of all the runners could beat the tram’s record.

A person surnamed Lam, who has four years of marathon running experience under his belt, clocked in with 32 minutes, about six minutes faster than the tram.

However, Lam argued for continuation of the tram service, saying the transport option is quite fast and efficient in picking up passengers.

It is private cars that are taking up the road space, not trams, he said, voicing opposition to a proposal from former government planner Sit Kwok-keung put an end to a tram route.

Sit, who now heads a consultancy, has proposed to the Town Planning Board that the tram service is too slow and that the Central to Admiralty route should be scrapped.

Another runner who participated in Sunday’s “Man vs Tram Race” said the argument that it is faster to walk than to take a tram is nonsense.

Only one-tenth of regular runners will be able to beat a tram, as documented in the race, he said.

“People like Sit should be invited to come and try race against the tram for once,” the runner said.

Meanwhile, Sit defended his claims last week of a person being able to walk faster than a tram, saying that he was only referring to situations during traffic jams.

Sit dismissed the argument that trams should be preserved due to their historical value.

“If we only focus on history, rickshaws should also have been preserved,” he said.

Sit confessed that he has never lived on the island side, and that he only takes trams once or twice a year when visiting relatives. He admitted that he has never done any scientific research to find out how frequent traffic jams are, but said his arguments were based on decades of observations.

Melonie Chau Yuet-cheung, an assistant environmental affairs manager at Friends of the Earth, has hit out at Sit for miscalculating road space consumption.

According to her environmental group, private cars occupy some 40 percent of the road space in Central, while trams only take up 4.5 percent.

It is therefore unfair to say trams take up one-thirds of the road space in Central, Chau said.

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