The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has introduced a new commuter boat to improve the service of Pasig River Ferry system as an alternative mode of transportation in the metropolis.
The brand new air-conditioned boat, which brings to eight the total number of operational ferries, has a capacity of at least 150 passengers.
MMDA deputy chairman Frisco San Juan said the additional ferry will be useful during rush hours and will start operating this week.
The launching of the new boat coincided with the MMDA’s signing of cooperation agreement with Dito Telecommunity and Nautical Transport Service Inc.
The cooperation of the private sectors would help the agency develop the route and operate additional boats.
To further expand the operations and cater more passengers, the MMDA is also planning to construct three more ferry stations in Quinta Market in Manila, Circuit Makati in Makati City, and Kalawaan in Pasig City.
The agency relaunched the Pasig River Ferry service and offered free rides to the public last month until the end of January to address the worsening traffic situation in the metropolis.
Commuters will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis.
The free boat ride, according to MMDA chairman Danilo Lim, is one way of giving back to the people for their support to the ferry system since the revival of its operation.
“This will also attract more commuters to patronize the ferry boat service along the historical Pasig River, especially with current concerns about vehicular traffic along Edsa,” Lim said.
The ferry system covers 12 other terminals—Pinagbuhatan, and San Joaquin in Pasig City; Guadalupe and Valenzuela in Makati City; Hulo in Mandaluyong City; PUP Sta. Mesa, Sta. Ana, Lambingan, Lawton, Escolta, and Plaza Mexico, all in Manila.
The system operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from Mondays to Sundays.
The MMDA revived the system as a means to decongest Metro Manila’s major roads affected by road construction projects being carried out by the Duterte administration.
Lim said the program has two other purposes: Boost Metro Manila’s tourism and use it for disaster and rescue purposes.
He said the free ferry transportation program hopes to encourage the public to patronize the ferry service over public utility vehicles and avoid the hassles of commuting in congested Metro Manila roads.
According to Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, the renewed beauty of the 25-kilometer river will attract more passengers.
“With the government’s collective effort and President Duterte’s order, Pasig River is now clean from floating garbage so aside from the ferry service being an alternative mode of transport, commuters can now enjoy the beauty of the river while on cruise,” said Go, who initiated the move to revive the project.
The senator encouraged the concerned government agencies to find ways and source funds for the ferry service to be free until the end of 2020.
All ferry stations boast of comfortable seats, convenient rest rooms and free Wi-Fi connectivity for passengers waiting for their rides.
The MMDA also installed closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to ensure the safety of the passengers and distributed radio equipment for concerned personnel for emergency purposes.
“Stations are important elements in the operation of the ferry service. We commit to provide safe and convenient travel to the passengers,” said Lim.
Ferry personnel have undergone a refresher course in first aid to ensure the safety of the passengers during emergencies.