Pasig ferry system needs fine-tuning
MANILA, Philippines—The week-old Pasig River ferry service was described on Sunday by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino as “a work in progress.”
“The (Pasig ferry service) needs to be fine-tuned. There is still a lot of work to be done,” Tolentino said in the agency’s weekly radio program on Sunday.
According to him, members of the tripartite committee in charge of the revival of the ferry system—the MMDA, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission—are still ensuring the seaworthiness of the boats to be used when the service starts regular operations.
The franchise for the ferry service is also still being worked out, Tolentino added.
The Inquirer learned that the private companies interested in being part of the Pasig ferry service operations were still waiting for an endorsement from the MMDA which would then be submitted to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), an agency under the transportation department.
In the meantime, the MMDA has been authorized by the DOTC to man the seven boats borrowed from private operators without the necessary franchise from Marina.
So far, the MMDA has been plying riders to and from four stations: Guadalupe in Makati City; Pinagbuhatan in Pasig City; Escolta in Manila and Plaza Mexico in Intramuros, also in Manila.
Since the service reopened on Monday last week, the ferry boats have served at least 5,000 passengers looking for an alternative mode of transportation.
Tolentino described this as a very big reduction in carbon footprint as there were 5,000 fewer people using land transportation.
While the MMDA has extended by another week the free ferry boat rides, Tolentino said the agency would be meeting with owners of restaurants in Escolta, Manila, on Tuesday to enlist their support for the new transport system.
“We hope that the opening of the ferry system last week will give birth to more ideas on how we can improve transportation in Metro Manila and find routes apart from the already congested Edsa,” he added.
At the same time, he rejected appeals from certain groups for the government to subsidize the ferry fare, similar to the ongoing situation at the Metro Rail Transit and Philippine National Railways.
“I think we don’t have to subsidize the fare for the Pasig ferry because it will be fully supported by commuters,” Tolentino said.
For this week, the MMDA is enticing commuters to take the ferry by offering them free coffee and pandesal. This is apart from the P250,000 insurance coverage given to each passenger.
Tolentino earlier said that the fare matrix was still being drawn up by the tripartite committee although there were reports that passengers may be charged between P25 and P50 each.