Yesterday I’ve decided to try the MMDA Pasig River Ferry System which is still at their dry run stage (free ride extended until May 15). This newly reopened system and/ or type of transportation, for both locals and tourists, hopes to lessen passenger volume/ congestion and to lessen the heavy traffic that we are experiencing these days.
In all fairness to MMDA, they are really thinking of ways to alleviate metro manila’s condition. And seeing the refurbished ferry station at Plaza Mexico in Intramuros, I can say that we’re a step closer to a better alternative mode of getting around the metro.
The MMDA even recycled old buses and tugboats to create a passenger ferry just like this one. (It’s like riding a bus and a ferry at the same time hehe).
Ferries are either 40 or 33 seaters and all are equipped with lifejackets so you don’t need to worry if you don’t know how to swim in cases of emergencies or accidents.
With the presence of these life jackets (or even without those because I know how to swim), I can’t help but think- am I really willing to jump into the river? Seriously, swimming in Pasig River is the very least of things that I’ll do unless of course it’s already a life and death situation.
Even with the presence of garbage and foul smell, some people find the river a source of livelihood and a basic commodity providing water for bath and for washing clothes.
Compared to the usual ways of commuting (buses, trains, jeepneys, etc.), the passenger ferry is sure to be more relaxed. It’s like a tour, showcasing the grand architectures of Manila’s old buildings (Post Office and Malacanan Palace) and the modern skyscrapers of Makati. You’ll also get a glimpse of Arroceros Forest Park, Hospicio de San Jose, Pandacan Oil Depot, Circuit Makati and Makati City Hall.
By the way, taking pictures of Malacanan Palace is strictly prohibited. An employee of the MMDA also told me that they discourage taking pictures of the Pandacan Oil Depot as this is very sensitive to radiation- just like gasoline stations prohibiting the use of cellphones.
You’ll also get to experience passing under several bridges like the Quezon Bridge, Ayala, Nagtahan, Guadalupe, etc.
I remember when i was younger, whenever we get to pass one of the bridges crossing the river, you wouldn’t actually notice the river itself but the bulk of garbages that lined its length. It is true that the river has changed a lot as compared to the previous years. Thanks to the effort of all the people who made this happen- like Gina Lopez, Run for Pasig participants, and etc.
But there are still a lot of work to do to bring back the river’s glory just like the old old times (I’ve never seen it personally though, thanks to the internet and pictures posted by netizens lol). If only, the river is cleaner and the air fresher, it would’ve been a much better tour and experience.
My ‘tour’ of the Pasig River ends at the Guadalupe station. And it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes from Plaza Mexico in Intramuros to Guadalupe (not as fast as I’ve expected though, but not really bad at all, considering it to be stress-free and of course my eyes feasted on the sceneries). The MMDA personnel who I’ve been talking with the entire trip told me that the other ferry (the 30 seater ferry he mean) is faster and could run the same distance for just 30-45 minutes.
Here’s a copy of their schedule (I was informed that this is just for the dry run and is subject to changes once the operation is in full swing):
Overall, I can say that the Pasig River Ferry is still far from being like the Star Ferry of Hong Kong, which is considered to be the main or one of the main mode of transportations in Victoria Harbour. (Disclaimer: Im not saying that we are competing with the Star Ferry, I just wanted to point out the sense of being a major mode of transportation).
There are still a lot of concerns that need to be addressed like the schedule (the ferry arrived late), the frequency of trips (I’ve waited for a ferry from noon until almost 4pm), the number of stations (as of the moment only 5 are operational- Plaza Mexico, Escolta, PUP, Guadalupe and Pinagbuhatan Pasig) and it also made me think- if other stations are already operational then travel time would be longer to give way for the docking of ferries and passengers getting on and off the ferry. It’s understandable though since they’re still having a dry run of the system. But I hope that it would improve once the operation is already in full swing.
Filipinos can still live without it- I mean the system should adjust to the lifestyle of a modern ‘working’ Pinoy if they really intend to consider this as a mode of daily transportation. It is not the people who will adjust for the system because in the first place, we do have a lot of options anyway. (But if they only see this as a mode of promoting tourism, then the only thing that they need to improve on is the cleanliness of the river).
The feasibility of the Pasig River Ferry becoming part of Filipinos’ everyday life is strong. It’s a work in progress. And although the MMDA is doing a great job, it should be a collective effort to make this development a success. The very effort of not throwing even a single candy wrapper into the river can go a long way as this does not only help to keep the river clean but it also prevents damages to ferry propellers (this lowers maintenance costs). It still boils down to each and every one’s responsibility of protecting our natural resources and supporting projects like this because in the end no one would really benefit from all of these but only we Filipinos.
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