Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya on Saturday said the revival of the Pasig River ferry will serve as an alternative transportation to alleviate the impact of the expected traffic jams in Metro Manila due to the ongoing major government infrastructure projects.
“Now that we have many ongoing government infrastructure projects, we at the DOTC saw this (ferry system) as an alternative transportation for residents near the Pasig River or for those whose places of work are near the Pasig River,” Abaya said.
Since he was appointed as DOTC secretary in August 2012, Abaya said he saw that the revival of the Pasig River ferry system will help ease out the burden of Metro Manila commuters due to the worsening traffic problem in the country.
He said studies are conducted to make the Pasig River ferry system a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project. He said the studies also involved running the river transport system from Manila all the way to Batangas passing thru Laguna and Cavite.
“So, we talked to a number of private proponents and they have expressed interest in the PPP project. They said they can actually start running the river transport system but initially only on limited sectors that they think is profitable,” Abaya said.
He said what needs to be acted on are the stations, the franchise to be issued to the proponent, and the fixed trip schedules which will entice commuters to patronize the transport system.
“We really need to impose a strict time on trip departures and arrivals because the varying time of departures and arrivals of the former ferry system was the main reason why commuters discontinued to patronize it,” Abaya said.
“Under the new system, the ferry must leave the station on time, with or without passengers,” he added.
He said the ferry system might be operational sometime next month.
The Pasig River ferry service first ran during the mid-1900s until it stopped operation in the 1960s due to the pollution problems of Pasig River.
In the 1990s, Magsaysay Lines started to operate a 15-kilometer stretch system anew which had stations from Guadalupe in Makati City all the way to Escolta, Manila.
The service, however, was closed in 1991 due to problems of squatters along the route, proliferation of water lilies, garbage and other debris clogging the waters which prevent boats from traveling at normal speeds, not to mention the foul odor of the polluted water.
In 1996, Starcraft Ferry tried to service the Pasig River ferry again but that time the system started in Bambang, Pasig City to Escolta, Manila which had a 16.2-kilometer stretch. A year later, Starcraft Ferry folded operations due to the same problems encountered by Magsaysay Lines on the river’s water.
In February 2007, the river transport system was again revived by SCC Nautical Transport Services from Lawton in Intramuros, Manila to Pinagbuhatan in Pasig City. However, it closed down in 2011 due to low passenger turnout. PNA