THE prototype of the Pasig River ferry was tested on Wednesday by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA).
The ferry, which is a small bus that was fitted on top of a tugboat, carried 50 passengers invited for the test run and travelled from Guadalupe in Makati City to Plaza Cervantes in Manila in a little under 90 minutes.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the 40-seat boat was overloaded, making the travel slow.
Tolentino said a lot of improvements will be in place to improve the travel time before it opens in April.
He stressed that the 20-meter vessel is safe to ride, and each passenger will have to wear a life vest and a rescue team will be part of the crew.
Each of the three boats will be operated by trained and licensed boatmen.
Tolentino said the project aims to revive the Pasig River ferry system. “What we’re trying to do here is arouse the interest of private firms to operate a ferry system again in Pasig River,” he said.
He said a number of companies have expressed interest in taking in the ferry service.
The fare is still being discussed with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), he added.
The MMDA ferry boats will serve a number of roles in Pasig River, such as emergency and rescue patrol, he said.
“The MMDA only serves as the catalyzer for the river ferry project. Private operators will handle it eventually,” he said.
Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) records showed that at the height of its river ferry operations from 2007 to 2010, passenger volume was close to 1.6 million.
Tolentino said plans are being drawn up to have at least four different operators to handle the ferry system.
The DOTC, PRRC and the MMDA will meet again on Thursday to discuss operational guidelines.
Tolentino proposed the revival of the Pasig River ferry as a means to decongest Metro Manila’s major roads affected by 15 road construction projects being implemented in the next two years.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO