Pasig River Ferry: Another Solution to Manila’s Traffic Woes?

Automologist Harold has found another solution to help solve Manila’s traffic congestion, but it is not being maximised. 

GOOD NEWS! I learned a few days ago from environmentalists of the Polytechnic University of Philippines, who conducted a research of the Pasig River, that there is now life again in the otherwise declared “dead river”. They saw janitor fish, “Tilapia” and new plant species, other than the river-life-choking water lilies. To their surprise, the otherwise muddy river filled with dirt and silt is now clearer; the notorious foul-smelling river is less odorous now. Still not fit for swimming but certainly fit now for Ferry Transport.

In 1990, Magsaysay Lines tried to pilot a 12-seater River Taxi along Pasig River, but the informal settlers (squatters), water lilies and foul smell caused this pilot endeavour to close a year after its launch. In 1996, another attempt was made to introduce 30 units of 30-seater catamaran-type river ferry called Star Craft; but after 3 years, it was forced to close due to the same issues.

In 2000, Environmental Conservationist Eduardo Manuel launched the Pasig River Transport 2000, with initially 10 units of 150-seater, fully air-conditioned vessels, complete with HD TV, music and entertainment facilities, and more comfortable seating. They travel a 16.5-kilometre route from Intramuros to Guadalupe in Makati City. In 2014, this was expanded to include a Guadalupe to Marikina route. Fare starts from a low of P15 to a high of P95 per passenger.

The problem, however, is to date only some 15 to 20 vessels are operating, serving fewer than 10,000 people a day. This means of transportation, while strategically located, is not being maximised. This is due in part to the lack of promotions and the peoples’ perception that travelling via the Pasig River is an odorous ordeal. Not anymore!

If given proper support from the government and private sector investments, the Pasig River can accommodate at least 100 larger vessels, carrying some 200 to 300 passengers per vessel. When operated properly, this can move at least 250,000 people a day—that is the equivalent of 1,000 buses on the streets.

An added feature to this project should be a river crossing service, say, from Mandaluyong to Makati, Guadalupe to Pioneer or Sta. Mesa to Sta. Ana. This would decongest minor roads. Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) type barges can also carry vehicles crossing the Pasig River to avoid the congested streets. This added feature can move 500,000 more people. This certainly would provide a significant contribution to reducing the monstrous traffic mess in Manila.

I am wondering who is in charge of this? Is it MMDA? Or the Department of Transportation? Or is this part already of the Build-Build-Build Golden Age of Infrastructure of the Duterte administration? The Filipino people would like to see some progress in this area, Mr. President.

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