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Gov't revives Pasig River ferry service

The government revived Wednesday the ferry service along the polluted Pasig River as an alternate mode of transport for commuters wanting to avoid the traffic jams in most of Metro Manila’s thoroughfares. Taking the river cruise is more comfortable because the ferry boats are air conditioned, and it is more economical than taking multiple jeepney, bus, or taxi rides that would most likely get stuck in traffic somewhere. No less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo inaugurated the Pasig River Ferry Service, which was a revival of the Starcraft ferry introduced in the early 1990s by then First Lady Amelita Ramos. Mrs. Arroyo took the initial ferry run from the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse located at the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Compound in Malacañang Park to the Guadalupe station in the boundary of the cities of Makati and Mandaluyong. A press release on the ferry service from the Palace said there will be newer and faster crafts with about 15 loading and unloading stations along the 27-kilometer stretch of the river from Manila Bay to Laguna Bay, traversing six cities. The air-conditioned ferryboats will have music on board and a bar. The stations will likewise also have air-conditioning units and other amenities such as payphones, security system and a ticketing scheme that uses both paper tickets for single journey and radio frequency ID for stored value. The initial cruise passed through the newly-built ferry stations in Sta. Ana and Lambingan bridge in Manila, barangay Hulo in Mandaluyong and Guadalupe in Makati City. The Escolta station is also open now. The ferry service will also have stations in Plaza Mexico, Quezon Bridge, Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila; Valenzuela in Makati City; San Joaquin and Canogan in Pasig City, Riverbanks, Sta. Elena and Marcos Bridge east in Marikina City; and Napindan in Taguig City. Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza said commuters would be treated to freeferry rides in the next seven days until February 20 from any of its terminals strategically located along the banks of the Pasig River. After the promotional run, commuters will have to pay a minimum flat rate of P25 until June 30 when all of the stations are expected to be operation. When the ferry service is fully operational, there will be additional charge of P2.25 per kilometer of cruise. Regular fare rates ranging from a minimum of P25 to a maximum of P45 will be charged per passenger after that. Mendoza said each terminal costs P80 million. There are three catamaran-type of ferries in the initial months of operation of the ferry service. Six more will be added in the third quarter of this year. The ferryboats, manufactured by the Nautical Transport Service, Inc. (NTSI), cost P15 million each, Mendoza said. Each boat can accommodate 150 passengers at one time. Mendoza said personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard will be on hand to respond to any emergency situation in the ferry service. The Pasig River Ferry Service is a project of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and co-chaired by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). GMA-7 Network, Incorporated, manufacturing giant Unilever, Clean and Green Foundation are private sector partners. - GMANews.TV