MMDA test runs Pasig ferry system

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MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino says the ferry boats will start operating in April. They can carry 40 passengers each.

TEST RUN. The MMDA prototype ferry boat to be used for the revival of the Pasig River ferry service from Gualupe in Makati to Intramuros in Manila. Photo by Jose Del/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – It looks like all systems are go for the proposed revival of the Pasig River ferry system, proposed as  a way to ease vehicular traffic in Metro Manila.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said it began testing an initial fleet of ferry boats Wednesday, March 5. The MMDA converted 3 of its tugboats into passenger vessels capable of carrying 40 persons each.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the ferry boats will start operating in April, although details, such as the cost of ferry rides, have yet to be ironed out. Tolentino said the MMDA is trying to “arouse the interest of private firms to operate a ferry system again in Pasig River.” (READ: Marina: Metro traffic to worsen; invest in ferry services)

Once a private firm takes over the ferry system, Tolentino said the MMDA boats will be used for emergency and rescue patrols. At least 4 operators will handle the proposed ferry system, said Tolentino.

Senator Ralph Recto has been pushing for the revival of the river ferry system, and urged government to take the lead. The system was shut down in 2011 due to losses. (READ: Pasig River: Solution to Metro Manila traffic?)

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), meanwhile, said it would provide security once the MMDA relaunches the ferry system. A rescue team will be on standby along the Pasig River in case of accidents, said PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo.

The PCG will also coordinate with local government units and the Philippine National Police, since the ferry system traverses through different cities in Metro Manila.

Vehicular traffic in Metro Manila is expected to go from bad to worse in the next few years due to a series of major road work in different areas from 2014 to 2016. – Bea Cupin/

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