Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino on Wednesday, September 16 encouraged commuters in the metropolis to patronize the ferry system to avoid traffic in Metro Manila as the agency’s added a new commuter boat for its Pasig River Ferry System.

Tolentino said that this is the second new fiberglass ferry has a maximum capacity of 45 passengers, crew included, and can travel up to 22 knots.

”Eto ang pangalawang ferry boat (na fiberglass). Pagpinatronize talaga ito, mababawasan ang load ng EDSA, lalo ngayon na mabigat ang Osmena Highway. Hinihimok talaga natin na gamitin tong alternative mode of transportation, (This is our second ferry boat made of fiberglass. If this route is prioritized, the load on EDSA would decrease, especially now traffic in Osmena Highway is heavy. We are really pushing for utilization of this alternative mode of transportation,)” he told reporters during the inauguration at the Guadalupe ferry terminal in Makati City.

The first fiberglass was launched at the Escolta ferry terminal last July.

The MMDA has been encouraging people to consider taking the ferry service as an alternative mode of transportation considering the traffic jams on the major roads of Metro Manila with the ongoing construction of the Skyway 3 along the Osmena Highway and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) elevated expressway.

He said compared to the old passenger boat which has capacity of 30 persons and has speed of 8 knots with the travel time of one hour and 30 minutes from end to end, the new passenger boat the travel time is 45 minutes from end to end.

Tolentino said that there will be four additional fiberglass ferry boats before the year ends.

“All in all, we now have a total of 12 operational ferries in our fleet including the two new fiberglass ferry. These will service passengers along Pasig River, which stretches from Pinagbuhatan in Pasig City up to Plaza Mexico in Manila. I am optimistic that this will further boost commuter patronage,” Tolentino said.

He said the fare which ranges from PHP35 to PHP50 is reasonable for the commuters, stressing that the major advantage of this mode of transport is the absence of traffic, resulting to faster travel time.

According to data, total ridership of the ferry system has reached 121,839 as of August 26.

At present, the ferry service has 11 stations which include Pinagbuhatan, and San Joaquin in Pasig City; Guadalupe and Valenzuela in Makati City; Hulo in Mandaluyong City; PUP Sta. Mesa, Sta. Ana, Lambingan, Lawton, Escolta, and Plaza Mexico all in Manila. It operates from 6 am to 6 pm during weekdays and 9 am to 12 noon on Saturdays.

Tolentino said they are continuously aiming to improve this alternate mode of transportation in Metro Manila.

The Pasig River Ferry System was revived April last year by MMDA, the Department of Transportation and Communication, and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, in the midst of traffic congestion problems resulting from numerous road infrastructure projects. The ferry system was previously operated by private firms who later bowed out due to numerous complaints of stench from passengers, the presence of water lilies and general unprofitability.

With Tolentino’s latest acquisition, the MMDA strives to address the complaints that caused previous ferry operators to shut down and make the the ferry system more attractive to passengers.