One route, 17 years, a lifetime of memories

Tram captain Chan Siu Chung remembers a memorable trip when he helped a young man propose - successfully - to his girlfriend on board an antique tram (behind him).
Tram captain Chan Siu Chung remembers a memorable trip when he helped a young man propose - successfully - to his girlfriend on board an antique tram (behind him).ST PHOTO: JOYCE LIM

Tram captain Chan Siu Chung drives the same route every day, from Whitty Street Depot to North Point terminus.

But the 47-year-old told The Sunday Times that he has never had a boring day at work, even after 17 years of plying the same route.

"The route may be the same, but the feeling is different. It's the people I meet every day who make my job interesting. Many are regular passengers... Sometimes when I see them boarding my tram looking sad, I wonder what could have happened," said Mr Chan.

"Then there are the children who take the tram to school. It is a joy watching them hop on and off... shouting 'bye-bye uncle', 'thank you, uncle' as they get off.

"After early-morning peak hours, I will see many homemakers taking the tram to the markets. During lunch time, the office workers will take the tram to nearby eating places."

In the evenings, the tram becomes a place for dating couples, who like to sit on the upper deck.

After more than a decade on the job, there are many memorable incidents for Mr Chan, who chose to become a tram driver after almost two decades of living in a flat that overlooked the Whitty Street Depot, and watching the trams from his flat every day. He decided to apply for the job of a trainee operator after 10 years of working in a printing firm.

One memorable episode, he recalled, was helping a young man propose to his girlfriend on board an antique tram six years ago.

Mr Chan said in Cantonese: "The man had booked an antique tram and he had told me what his girlfriend would be wearing on that day. When I spotted the girl, I drove the tram slowly and stopped right in front of her. She was really surprised to see the antique tram. At that point, her boyfriend appeared with a bouquet and invited her to board the tram.

"They proceeded to the upper deck... At the end of the ride, as I drove the tram back to the depot, the man came up to thank me. He was very emotional and gave me a hug. He said he had 'succeeded'!

"It's very sweet and heart-warming when you have a man boarding your tram at the beginning of the journey and ending up with a partner for life at the end of the trip."

Joyce Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 26, 2016, with the headline 'One route, 17 years, a lifetime of memories'. Print Edition | Subscribe