The government has relaunched the Pasig River Ferry service to address the worsening traffic situation in the metropolis and provide alternative mode of transportation to the people.
To further expand the operations and cater more passengers, the Metro Manila Development Authority is planning to construct three more ferry stations in Quinta Market in Manila, Circuit Makati in Makati City, and Kalawaan in Pasig City.
MMDA chairman Danilo Lim led the project relaunching on Monday held at the Lawton Station in Manila, which was attended by Mayor Francisco Domagoso, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go and Transportation secretary Arthur Tugade.
“The Pasig River ferry service has been an alternative mode of transport to Metro Manila commuters who want to avoid traveling the busy streets of Metro Manila. Now, they can enjoy ferry rides between Pasig City and Manila City for free until the end of January,” said Lim.
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.
The MMDA had temporarily suspended the ferry operation due to a carpet of water lilies and other aquatic plants that clogged the river.
The water lilies that clogs the river during rainy season, came from Laguna lake and it has long been a problem affecting the operation of the ferry river system since the time of then MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino. It entangle the ferry’s propeller, preventing the boats from traveling at normal speed.
The government also stopped the ferry operations following complaints from passengers about the long waiting time at the terminals and the river’s foul smell.
But according to Senator 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 concerned government agencies to find ways and source funds for the ferry service to be free until the end of 2020.
Commuters will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis.
In preparation for the relaunch, Lim ordered the refurbishment of ferry stations and the sourcing of additional boats to further serve passengers better.
“Expect better services with additional safe and speedy boats, rehabilitated ferry stations and additional personnel,” said Lim.
He also thanked the local chief executives of Metro Manila for their support for the project, especially Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto who provided two newly procured ferry boats which are now part of the Ferry fleet.
“I would like to specially thank the local government of Pasig for lending two passenger boats for the use of the ferry service, and to Mayor Vico Sotto, who has been very supportive with this endeavor in providing alternative transport options to Metro Manilans,” Lim said.
He added that “though the river ferry service still needs a lot of work, these efforts have given government the needed institutional knowledge and experience in turning this river ferry service into a viable transport alternative.”
The Pasig River ferry service now has seven boats which can accommodate varying number of passengers.
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.
The ferry service presently runs between Pasig City and Manila, with 11 stations — Pinagbuhatan, San Joaquin and Maybunga in Pasig; Guadalupe and Valenzuela in Makati City; Hulo in Mandaluyong City, and Lambingan, Sta. Ana, PUP Sta. Mesa, Lawton and Escolta in Manila.
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