THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) yesterday relaunched the Pasig River ferry service which will offer free rides between Pasig City and Manila until January 31.
MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim expressed confidence the public will patronize the ferry service as an option to beating heavy traffic flow in Metro Manila.
“The Pasig River ferry service has been an alternative mode of transport to Metro Manila commuters who want to avoid traveling the busy streets of Metro Manila. Now they can enjoy free rides between Pasig City and Manila City for free until the end of January,” Lim said at the relaunch ceremony at the Lawton ferry station in Manila.
Also attending the relaunch were Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and Sen. Christopher Go, among others.
Commuters will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis.
For the relaunch, Lim ordered the repair of ferry stations and the sourcing of additional boats.
According to Lim, problems that arose when the alternative transportation system was first introduced last 2014, like budget, have been addressed especially because of the support from Malacañang.
MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia said the ferry service will give the public an alternative to the usually-packed buses, jeepneys, and LRT trains.
The Pasig City government lent two passenger boats to the ferry service which has now seven boats, two of which can accommodate 57 passengers each, three boats which can accommodate 36 passengers each, and two boats which have the capacity for 16 passengers each.
Sotto underscored the importance of the ferry system, especially to Pasig which serves as gateway in the eastern part of the metropolis.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said the city is offering other locations that can be used as a station for the ferry service such as the area in Quinta Market which is near the Quiapo Church.
Moreno also said that service will attract more tourists.
“If they are coming from Pasig, they can all travel directly, landing here in Manila and vice versa,” he said.
The MMDA said there is also a plan to construct ferry stations in Circuit Makati in Makati City, and Kalawaan in Pasig City.
The ferry service has 11 stations: Pinagbuhatan, San Joaquin and Maybunga in Pasig City; Guadalupe and Valenzuela in Makati City; Hulo in Mandaluyong City; Lambingan, Sta. Ana, PUP, Lawton, and Escolta in Manila.
Lim said there is a plan to extend the ferry service to Marikina City and even the lakeshore towns of Laguna de Bay.
All the ferry stations have comfortable seats, restrooms and free Wi-Fi for passengers. The MMDA also installed closed-circuit TV cameras to ensure the safety of passengers.
Go asked the public to refrain from dumping wastes into the river, recalling how President Duterte often complained about the stench of the waterway.
A commuter group has filed a petition seeking to stop the operation of colorum motorcycle taxis, saying the unauthorized provision of service of these companies may cause grave and substantial damage to the public.
Ariel Inton, speaking for the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection (LCSP), said the petition was filed on December 3 before the Quezon City regional trial court against We Move Things Philippines Inc. (Joyride), Habal Rides Corp., I-Sabay, Sampa-Dala Corp., and Trans-Serve Corp.
“At the outset, it should be pointed out that respondents commenced the rollout of their motorcycle taxi business without any franchise from Congress or permit or authority from the Department of Transportation,” Inton said.
“Combined, thousands of motorcycles illegally booking and transporting passengers ply the roads, unduly exposing petitioners’ members to road hazards and increased risk of accidents,” the petition said.
Inton said motorcycle taxi operations are being conducted outside the pilot program of the transportation department, defeating entirely the essence of the ongoing pilot testing and exposing the riding public to grave risks.
Early this year, the House passed resolution No. 2449 urging the DOTr to implement a pilot program allowing, monitoring, and regulating the operation of registered and organized motorcycles-for-hire as an alternative public transport utility.
The DOTr allowed a six-month pilot test of ride-hailing app Angkas starting in June of this year. Angkas became the sole subject of the pilot program which will end in December.
The five motorcycle taxi companies identified as the respondents in the LCSP petition are not part of the pilot program. – With Cyra Corral and Myla Iglesias