Pasig River ferry revival eyed to solve Metro traffic—Recto
Reviving Pasig River, which would cost the government P2.65 billion, was one of the solutions that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is proposing to address the traffic crisis in Metro Manila, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto disclosed on Monday.
Recto said the details of the Pasig River ferry revival were in the August 24 letter of DOTr Secretary Arturo Tugade to senators.
The Senate committee on public services chaired by Senator Grace Poe cancelled its hearing last week on the proposed granting of emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte, pending the submission of a list of projects that the government would implement under such powers.
In the letter, Recto said, DOTr listed under “maritime sector” five projects worth P2.65 billion, which must be completed before commuter boats would be able to ply a 15-kilometer portion of the waterway again.
The five projects are the following:
- Buy 20 100-passenger vessels at a cost of P400 million
- Rehabilitate 10 passenger terminals at a cost of P40 million
- Maintain the vessels and terminals at an annual cost of P10 million
- Dredge the silted river at an annual cost of P2 billion
- Maintain dredging equipment at an annual cost of P200 million
The last two, Recto said, would cover not just the 15-kilometer ferry route but the whole 27-kilometer length of the river and would include controlling the proliferation of the carpet of water lily which has impeded navigation.
He said the cost of reviving Pasig River as a “people mover” was less compared to the expensive land-based solutions like trains and elevated expressways.
“This nautical highway is wider than the widest road. It is toll-free. It is ready to use. It is not beset by right-of-way issues. Unlike roads, its rehabilitation will not cause traffic jams,” said the senator.
“There is no need to import trains and wait years for their delivery because the boats can be procured locally, from Cavite, Batangas, Bataan, and Cebu, where there is a thriving shipbuilding industry,” he said.
But since it would take years before the revived ferry service could recoup investment or even break even, Recto said the government should initially subsidize its operations.
“I think that the per rider subsidy would be lower than the present subsidy of P40 per MRT (Metro Rail Transit) or LRT (Light Rail Transit) passenger trip,” he said.
Recto said the 10-boat Pasig River ferry service, before it stopped operations in 2011, served 17 stations along a 15-kilometer route from Plaza Mexico in Intramuros, Manila to Nagpayong in Pasig City. RAM/rga
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