A real estate developer donated a 50-seater boat, bringing to 12 the total number of boats used by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority in its Pasig River Ferry Service program.
MMDA chairman Benjamin Abalos Jr. accepted the new boat, named MB Vicente, donated by New San Jose Builders Inc. in a simple turnover ceremony held Thursday at the Guadalupe Ferry Station in Makati City.
The MMDA is hoping that the new boat will further increase ridership amid the limited public transportation as the implementation of general community quarantine in Metro Manila continues.
Abalos thanked NSJBI, headed by its Chairman Jose Acuzar, for the donation that he said was “expected to augment the shortage of ferry boats for our day-to-day operations.”
In a statement, Acuzar said the NJSBI is honored to be a part of the solution to alleviate heavy traffic.
“The Pasig River Ferry Service is an effective alternative transportation that doesn’t just lessen the land vehicle volume but also promotes the beauty of the historic river,” he said.
The PRFS accommodated a total of 436,931 passengers from April 2014 to October 2019.
Abalos said the number of passengers could have been higher if not for the recurrent problem on water hyacinths that oftentimes resulted in cancelled or limited trips.
“We assure the public that we will continue to improve the ferry service for a comfortable and safe riding experience of the public,” he said.
Abalos said he plans to double the ferry boats, shorten the waiting time of one hour to 30 minutes to encourage more passengers, and open the Napindan dockyard in Taguig City. He is also eyeing to add more routes to the ferry service that will interconnect Manila Bay, Pasig River and Laguna Lake.
For his part, MMDA Deputy Chairman and concurrent PRFS head Undersecretary Frisco San Juan Jr. said ferry service is set to reopen three existing ferry stations in Maybunga in Pasig City and Polytechnic University of the Philippines and Lambingan in Manila. Construction is also ongoing for three new stations in Quinta Market in Manila, Circuit Makati and Kalawaan in Pasig.
The PRFS can cater a total of 455 passengers through the following 11 currently operating vessels, each with 50 percent limited seating capacity in compliance with the Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases: four units with 36 seating capacity each, three units with 55 seating capacity each, two units with 57 seating capacity each, and another two with 16 capacity each.
In compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to enhance the PRFS, the MMDA refurbished 11 ferry stations from Pinagbuhatan in Pasig to Escolta in Manila and relaunched the service in December 2019, offering free rides to passengers as an alternative means of transportation.
The MMDA is requiring passengers to wear face masks and face shields and undergo temperature check as part of strict enforcement of health and safety protocols against the coronavirus disease.
Inside the ferry boat, passengers must stay “one seat apart” in compliance with the physical distancing measures.
Passengers must fill up a manifest form and commuter information sheet before boarding.