Kowloon Trams – the when, the where but not the why not…and proposed cross harbour tram bridge!

IDJ has sent the PF Leeds 1984 extract below concerning Trams in Kowloon.

HF Presumably “the company” means Hong Kong Tramways. (Note: In 1902 Hong Kong Tramway Electric Company Limited was founded. In the same year the company changed its name to Electric Traction Company of Hong Kong Limited. And in 1910 the name changed again to The Hong Kong Tramways Limited.)

And as stated “the ferry” is the Star Ferry in TST.

As the author says given the the HK Government’s policy of non-involvement in public transport and utilities (except the KCR and water supplies) it would interesting to learn why it was considered in this case.

Trams - Kowloon PF Leeds 1984

Trams - Kowloon PF Leeds 1984 2

The Development of Public Transport in Hong Kong, PF Leeds, 1984 p36

A possible explanation why trams didn’t start up in Kowloon is provided in  the SCMP article, Early budget blues meant end of the line for cross-harbour bridge, 26th April 2009.

A bridge from Hong Kong Island to Jordan, carrying trams, was planned in the 1920s, a local historian says, but a lack of money and the rise of buses in the 1930s saw the plan withdrawn. Hong Kong was a poor city at the time. It took five years for the Legislative Council to allocate HK$8,000 to buy a clock to put on the clock tower, still located outside Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier, in 1915.

Roger Ho Yao-sheng, who has written a history of trams in Hong Kong, said the bridge plan was withdrawn because the project was considered too expensive. ‘It was found out that it was much more difficult to build tram tracks in Kowloon than on Hong Kong Island owing to the different geographical characteristics,’ he said.

‘On Hong Kong Island, the tram track could easily be built following the harbour line. But in Kowloon, it was much more complicated, even if it was built along Nathan Road.’

A tram bridge across the harbour!

What were the complications of building tram lines in Kowloon? You would think Nathan Road in the 1920s would have been rather easy.

The image accompanying this article does not show a tram trundling along Kowloon City Road in the 1950s.

See:

  1. The Development of Public Transport in Hong Kong PF Leeds, 1984 pp 9-12, 36-37
  2. SCMP article, Early-budget-blues-meant-end-line-cross-harbour-bridge 26th April 2009

The Index contains a number of articles about Trams and The Peak Tram in HK.

2 Comments

  • The restriction on Kowloon tramway in the future might be the inadequate of land for tracks layout and terminus. Also the unique operation of trams (driving at one end) – it will be worsen if one tram broke down and drivers have to reverse at the crossover manually.

    Best wishes,
    Joseph

    • Sidney Wong

      By the 1920s, US and English experience had shown the decline of trams and streetcars versus the rise of automobile. Many privately run tram companies in American cities were losing ridership. Perhaps, that was a business consideration.

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