A RIVER ferry system is supposed to be one viable solution to reduce traffic in Metro Manila.
But “unfortunately,” only a few commuters appreciate this solution, Quezon City’s 5th District Rep. Alfred Vargas lamented.
What is worse, even “some government officials do not even know of its existence,” Vargas said.
Knowing how motorists are helpless in traffic, Vargas crossed the divide and viewed the problem from the side of car-less citizens.”Out of curiosity and in line with my congressional duties, I decided to try the ferry trip myself.”
As vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations that will look into the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission’s 2017 proposed budget, the 35-year-old actor-turned-politician took the proverbial plunge just a week ago and for a fare of just P40.
“The Pasig River is not the same filthy, pungent, polluted river anymore that it has always been reputed to be, thanks to the efforts of PRRC, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the local government units and other environmental groups through the years,” the congressman noted.
“The water is clean. The air has a hint of freshness. There is greenery left and right. There are different species of fish and birds. The speed of the ferry was just right. The crew members were polite and professional. The view was remarkable as we passed by the Makati skyline, Arroceros Park, Malacañang Palace and the Post Office. The ride was relaxing,” he says.
“But for me, the most gratifying was… there was no traffic at all!”
The Quezon City lawmaker believed there was still a lot to be done, though “the improvements are noteworthy.” In fact, he equates his trip with “my ferry rides in Hong Kong, China and Paris, France.”
Vargas expressed a desire to bring back the long-lost glory of Pasig River “as beautifully described by the country’s greatest national hero, Jose Rizal, in his works of art and literature.
He supported the appropriation of sufficient budget and encouragement of public-private partnerships to make the river what it once was.
The PRRC stressed the need to rehabilitate the Pasig before it is too late. “Pasig River or Ilog Pasig is the story of the Filipino people. It is the first settlement for Tagalog inhabitants in the early years. The word ‘tagalog’ was derived from “taga-ilog” or riverside dweller.”
The MMDA ferry has 12 stations in Metro Manila—Pinagbuhatan, Maybunga and San Joaquin in Pasig City, Guadalupe and Valenzuela in Makati City, Hulo in Mandaluyong City, and PUP-Sta. Mesa, Sta. Ana, Lambingan, Lawton, Escolta and Plaza Mexico in Manila.
Fares range from P15 to P95. The ferry system operates Monday to Saturday from 6:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m.
Amid deliberations on the several measures granting President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to fix the traffic trouble in the National Capital Region, Vargas called on the government to step up promotion of the ferry system.
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