Ngong Ping 360
Over the last half century, Hong Kong has established itself as one of the world’s leading financial centers and is continually ranked as one of the best places to start a business. However, there is more to the city than just stocks and skyscrapers.
This dynamic and vibrant metropolis is a fusion of many cultures. Evidence of the city’s colonial roots is seen throughout – seamlessly mixed with Chinese tradition. From the exciting world-class shopping and cuisine to the scenic views of the city’s iconic skyline, it’s no surprise that Hong Kong is such a desired international destination.
Adding to its appeal, the Ngong Ping 360 cable car was opened in 2006 and has been one of Hong Kong’s most popular excursions (attracts over 1.6 million riders annually). The Leitner-built Bicable Detachable Gondola (BDG), transports passengers from Tung Chung station to Ngong Ping Village located on Lantau Island.
Tourists and locals alike can easily access the cable car by taking the MTR’s Tung Chung Line – a rapid transit system – to Tung Chung. From the rail station, passengers can purchase a separate fare and board the cable car. For an additional cost, riders have the option of upgrading their experience by boarding one of the VIP “Crystal Cabins”, complete with glass floors.
The initial portion of the cable car’s journey is a short crossing of Tung Chung Bay to Airport Island Angle Station – where the gondola makes a 60-degree turn. The gondola then proceeds to ascend over Tung Chung Bay again to Lantau Island where the gondola reaches its terminus station, Ngong Ping.
During this 25-minute journey, riders can enjoy panoramic views of the North Lantau Country Park, the South China Sea, the Tung Chung Valley, the Tian Tan Buddha statue, Hong Kong International Airport, Nei Lak Shan, and surrounding terrain and waterways. At Ngong Ping Village, tourists can indulge in a variety of shopping and dining experiences. Of course, one must not forget to check out the international cable car gallery, which exhibits cable car replicas from all over the globe.
|Stations||4 (2 boarding & 2 angle)|
|Line Capacity (pphpd)||3500|
|One-way Fare (HKD)||130 (Standard)|
How to Manage a World-Class Cable Car: Interview with Stella Kwan, Managing Director of Ngong Ping 360
Ever wonder what it takes to manage a world-class cable car?
As part of China Daily’s Asia Leadership Roundtable program, they sat down with Ngong Ping 360’s Managing Director, Stella Kwan, to discuss how the cable car is responding to Hong Kong’s unique set of socioeconomic conditions.
The interview provides great insight and lessons on what prospective cable cars proponents can expect to face and how they can overcome these challenges.
As a quick summary, Stella explains how a cable car system can be affected by both local and regional tourism trends. In particular, she highlights a few key issues that they had to confront in recent times:
- Higher travel costs to Hong Kong due to currency exchange rates
- Relaxed visa application processes for Chinese visitors in neighbouring countries (i.e. South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and etc). This means greater competition for the lucrative Chinese market as ~25% of its ridership is from the mainland
- Increasing number of tourist attractions in Asia-Pacific area
Despite these challenges, the cable car was still able to attract 1.62 million riders in 2015 — bringing in an annual revenue of US$44.7 million (HK$347 million)! This perhaps shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as the cable car is a wholly owned subsidiary of one of the world’s most profitable transit agencies, MTR Corp Ltd.
To promote the cable car and remain competitive, the company has strengthened digital marketing efforts to attract more locals and corporate events.
From an operational standpoint, the Hong Kong cable car has implemented a very unique and innovative solution to address its human resource challenges.
As many operators can perhaps attest to, finding specialized ropeway technicians to operate and maintain a cable car is not the easiest task.
In a 2011 article by the South China Morning Post, the head of operations discussed how staff must undergo extensive in-house training program (takes up to 5 years) before they gain the skills necessary to oversee operations.
To address this skill shortage, Ngong Ping 360 set up a 2-year Cable Car Technology course in 2014 to train the next generation of local ropeway technicians. The course, which is recognized by the Hong Kong administration, so far appears to be a success as the system has subsequently hired several of its graduates.
All in all, Stella goes into more details on other strategies the cable car has employed to maintain its competitiveness and provides valuable advice for youngsters looking to start a career in the tourism industry.
Click here for the full article.
Ever wonder how the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car was built? Well luckily for you Extreme Engineering — a documentary television series on Discovery — took some time back in 2005 and followed the cable car team who built the system. It takes you on an epic journey and allows viewers take a closer look at the types of challenges faced by the construction crew — from torrential rains to high winds.
If you have some time, it’s well worth it to watch the entire 40 minute episode –but if not, I’ve highlighted some of the more interesting parts below. Enjoy!
Note: The uploader has incorrectly described the video as the Ocean Park Cable Car in the “About” section on Youtube (the video preview image below is also inaccurate). The Ocean Park Cable Car is a cable car system in a Hong Kong amusement park and is not the Ngong Ping 360 system that is being documented here.
Riding public transit can be an overwhelmingly positive experience. You don’t have to drive in traffic, you get to read your favourite book, and you can save money. However, any regular transit rider knows that once in a while, something always happens which gives you that urge to just vent out a little (or a lot). The real nice thing is, the fashion in which you swear is entirely up to you, whether its in your own mind, muttered under your breathe or shouted verbally at your fellow passenger.
However, should you choose to voice your displeasure out loud, you may get fined depending on the district you live in. For example, in Milwaukee, a rider was hit with a $500 ticket from an undercover deputy for cursing on a bus.
Now while I thought that was a little ridiculous, it’s apparently not uncommon. In Hong Kong, they decided to take it a bit further. There’s supposedly a law which regulates swearing and the most bizarre (or hilarious) thing about this is that the amount you’re fined is directly dependent on where you decide to spew your profanity. For example, if somehow you’re caught cursing on the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, you’ll get hit with a HK$5000 fine (USD $650)!
So my question is: who and how did one determine these figures? And why does it cost me 5x more to swear on a cable car than a funicular?
While we’ll probably never find these answers, we do know one thing for sure. If you’re feeling down and out in Hong Kong and wanted to vent some frustration in public, at only HKD$100 (USD$13) per swear word, the tram is definitely your most economical option.
The Ngong Ping Cable Car in Hong Kong is known for several standout qualities. The system has glass floor “Crystal Cabins” and travels over Tung Chung Bay and Lantau Island.
But a lesser known story involves the construction of the system.
Lantau Island is the largest island in Hong Kong, known as “the lungs of Hong Kong”. Because much of the island is designated as a national park, one can imagine that the any type of infrastructure construction would need to be done with extreme care and minimal environmental impact.
So what’s the best way to cart construction material over rough terrain without trampling down a rain forest for roads or tractors?
As it turns out, MTR Corporation flew in six Canadian mules to help haul the material.
Don’t worry, the heaviest equipment came by helicopter.
A while back I asked readers to help find information about 9 virtually unknown cable systems around the world. Regarding the Ngong Ping 360 in Hong Kong, Scott Burling contributed this guest post (with pictures):
The Ngong Ping 360 connects Tung Chung MTR (Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway) station with Ngong Ping village, and the nearby Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha. The Ngong Ping Gondola completes its 5.7km journey in 25 minutes, a substantial time saving over the hour long road trip that would otherwise be required.