Ridership of the Pasig River Ferry System service rose 17.5 percent over the last year, the Metro Manila Development Authority announced Friday.
Records released by the MMDA public information office showed that 105,741 passengers were recorded in 2016, up from the 89,993 riders the agency tallied in 2015.
“We are happy to hear that people are now fully aware of the River Ferry operations, and we are hoping that they will continue to patronize the service. We are doing this for the people to have an option to ride this mode of public transportation,” said MMDA acting chairman Thomas Orbos.
MMDA officials are hoping to see the Pasig Ferry ridership rise to 1,000 passengers daily, with the opening of new terminals this year in Marikina City and Quezon City and its expansion to the provinces of Rizal and Laguna.
At least 30 terminals will be built in the eastern part of Metro Manila and the provinces of Rizal and Laguna, the MMDA said. Seven terminals will be built around the Laguna Lake and in the city of Calamba.
Orbos attributed the increase to the latest intermodal transport or the Free Shuttle Service project the MMDA launched last month in partnership with Megaworld Corp.
The shuttle service caters to ferry passengers going to and from Divisoria and Lucky Chinatown in Binondo, as well as Uptown Mall in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.
The MMDA has 14 operational ferries. Each 20-meter-long ferry boat is operated by trained and licensed boatmen, and is equipped with appropriate safety gear such as life vests for each passenger.
A rescue boat goes on routine patrol operation along the Pasig River, and Coast Guard personnel also board trips to inspect safety measures.
“We can help the environment [by riding the ferry] and at the same time our travel will be faster, like from here to Manila it will take you less than an hour. So, please help us, the more that we use it, the more that we’ll become viable,” said Orbos.
At present, the ferry service has 11 stations —Pinagbuhatan 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, all in Manila.
The system operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from Monday to Sunday.
The MMDA revived the Pasig River Ferry System in 2014 to decongest Metro Manila’s major roads affected by the government’s ongoing road construction projects.
The program also aimed to boost Metro Manila’s tourism, and can be used for disaster and rescue purposes as well, the MMDA said.
The government stopped the Pasig River Ferry operations in 2011 following complaints from passengers about the long waiting time at the terminals and the river’s foul smell from decades of pollution.