By Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan
MANILA, July 15 (PNA) — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) launched on Wednesday one of the six new ferryboats it acquired to augment the 11 existing water buses of the Pasig River Ferry system.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the new ferryboat runs at 12 knots or 22 kilometers per hour, faster than the existing boats, which move only at five knots or nine kph.
Tolentino said each boat costs PhP3 million. The other five boats will come by batch and will be completed in October.
At present, the ferry service has 11 stations which include Pinagbuhatan and San Joaquin in Pasig City, Guadalupe and Valenzuela in Makati City, Hulo in Mandaluyong City, PUP Sta. Mesa, Sta. Ana, Lambingan, Escolta, Lawton, and Plaza Mexico in Manila, with 10 passenger boats in operation. It operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, with fares ranging from PhP30 to PhP50.
The ferryboats have accommodated around 100,000 passengers since the Pasig River Ferry System was revived in April last year by MMDA, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC).
MMDA also plans to build two additional stations in Riverbank, Marikina City and Eastwood, Quezon City this year.
Based on MMDA records, the ridership of the ferry system increased from around 200 a week last year to 350 to 380 daily this year.
Tolentino said they are continuously aiming to improve this alternate mode of transportation in Metro Manila.
Tolentino encourages commuters in the metropolis to patronize and utilize the agency’s project.
Earlier, MMDA Urban Development Division Planning Officer IV Jose Reynaldo Lunas said the transport system will also serve as a lifeline during calamities.
”The boats can deliver supplies, medicines and food to areas inaccessible by land, so it’s not just another means of transportation,” Lunas said.
He added the major advantage of this mode of transport is the absence of traffic, resulting to faster travel time.
MMDA tapped the help of PRRC, as well as the Philippine Coast Guard, for the safety of the passengers.
The group orients passengers on safety procedures in riding the boats.
In cases of weather disturbances, the agency follows the necessary precautions. Its operation is set to stop upon the declaration of public signal warning signals. Also, all passengers are automatically insured. (PNA)