1 more week of free rides, coffee, pandesal
Despite the Pasig River’s smell and some late adjustments, the ferry service revived by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) moved more than 5,000 passengers in under a week since the April 28 soft launch, a figure that shows a lot of promise to MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino.
And to further encourage riders, the MMDA said the trips would remain free of charge for another week, with other enticements: Free coffee and pandesal. Passengers will also continue to be covered by insurance at P250,000 each.
“We are thankful that commuters have begun to realize the benefits of a fast and convenient transport system along Pasig River,” Tolentino said Friday. “In less than a week, we have removed 5,000 commuters from land transport. This is also a very big reduction in terms of carbon footprints.”
Up to 800 people daily have so far used the ferries, he said. The number is expected to rise, hence the current fleet of seven boats may be expanded to 10 next week, Tolentino added.
The boats belong to two private operators, which Tolentino said had just secured franchises. A fare matrix will later be drawn up by a tripartite committee composed of the MMDA, the Department of Transportation and Communications, and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.
The MMDA also plans to launch a new mobile phone application showing service schedules and routes.
The ferry system currently operates stations in Guadalupe, Makati City; Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City; Escolta, Manila; and Plaza Mexico in Intramuros (the ferry passing by the Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Sta. Mesa), also in Manila.
Two more stations are targeted for opening within the month, in Sta. Ana, Manila and San Joaquin, Pasig.
Told of the passengers’ persisting complaints about the smelly river, Tolentino said the MMDA had already deployed a barge to scoop out trash from the water, but explained that the cleanup “is not a requirement before a ferry system can be operated.”
“We never promised that Pasig River will be clean. What we promised, we achieved: An alternative transport system,” he said.
The MMDA chief pushed for the revival of the ferry system as a way to decongest Metro Manila’s major roads that are affected by up to 15 infrastructure projects lined up in the next two years, including Skyway Stage 3.
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