SENATOR Sonny Angara on Sunday stressed that in order to expedite the development of the Pasig River ferry system as an alternative mode of transport for Metro Manila commuters, funding has been provided in the 2020 General Appropriations Act for this purpose under the budget of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance said the P176 million budget lodged with the MMDA is intended to make the Pasig River ferry system more viable as a mode of transport especially with traffic congestion in the roads of Metro Manila seemingly getting worse by the day.
The budget will be used for the purchase of four 50-seater air-conditioned ferry boats that will supplement the current fleet being operated by the MMDA.
There are presently nine passenger boats in the inventory of the MMDA, but only two of these are operating daily.
“There seems to be no end in sight for traffic in Metro Manila. We were given a brief respite after Christmas Day last year but now traffic is back with a vengeance. Motorists and commuters alike have to suffer being stuck in traffic for one to four hours or more, depending on where you are from and where you are going to,” Angara said.
“The skyway systems that aim to ease traffic along the major thoroughfares such as EDSA are still under construction but this doesn’t mean that we can do nothing to help our commuters. We have to look for solutions and the Pasig River ferry could help,” Angara added.
Apart from the purchase of more ferry boats, the funds will also be used by the MMDA to improve the ferry station accessibility and intermodal transfers.
Angara said that purchasing new boats is not enough because the commuting public must be provided with easy access to the ferry stations if they are to be enticed to use this mode of transport.
“Dapat pag baba nila ng bus o jeep mula sa kanilang pinanggalingan ay may masasakyan o malalakaran sila na maayos papunta sa ferry stations,” Angara said.
There are 14 ferry stations along the Pasig River but only 11 of these are operational. The present system can transport passengers on the Pasig-Mandaluyong-Makati-Manila route.
The budget will also be used for the preventive maintenance of the boat fleet and for the procurement of information and communication equipment and service vehicle.
“We still have a long way to go before the revitalized ferry system that is being envisioned becomes a reality, but this is a good start. We owe it to the public to continuously provide them with solutions to problems such as traffic congestion,” Angara said.