MANILA – The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Friday gained a new ferry for its Pasig River Ferry System (PRFS) after signing of a cooperation agreement between the agency and new telecommunications player Dito Telecommunity.
In a press conference at the Guadalupe Ferry Station in Makati City, MMDA Deputy Chairman, Undersecretary Frisco San Juan Jr. said Dito’s purchase of the 150-seater twin-hull catamaran and subsequent loan of the vessel to the ferry service marked the first time a private company joined the initiative to make Pasig River a viable transportation mode in Metro Manila.
“This day is a milestone kasi nga (because) this is the first in the private sector to join the initiative launched by the Office of the President,” San Juan said.
San Juan said the vessel would operate within the next two to three weeks after the MMDA completes route planning for the new ferry and other requirements.
Purchased from the Nautical Transport Service, Inc. (NTSI), he said two more of the same type of vessel would be added to the current fleet of the PRFS in the next two to three weeks after other private entities pledged to help in the revival of the maritime transport network.
The vessel, powered by twin diesel engines capable of producing a total of 700 horsepower, is also airconditioned for the comfort of its passengers—up to 200 with some standing passengers—, with free WiFi, a television, and is capable of cruising at 24 knots (about 44 kilometers per hour).
However, NTSI chairman Jose Reyes Jr. said the vessel would probably cruise at an average of 8 to 12 knots during operation due to terrain limitations and water conditions in Pasig River.
Following a meeting with the OP and other government agencies on Tuesday, San Juan said the free rides offered at the PRFS would not extend beyond January 31.
However, he said the fee for the ferry service would be cheaper than in the past to continue to encourage commuters to patronize the mass transport system.
“We will formulate a minimal fee para lang sa maintenance ng actual boats at para magaan sa bulsa ng mga mananakay (just for the maintenance of the actual boats and to make sure it’s cost-effective for commuters),” San Juan said.
He said the actual fare will be announced by the end of the month. Raymond Carl Dela Cruz / PNA – northboundasia.com