Gov't eyes additional boats, terminals for Pasig River ferry system

MANILA, Philippines – The government is planning to add more boats and terminals to the Pasig River ferry system to improve its services and turn it into a reliable mode of transportation.

On Wednesday, April 4, the Department of Budget and Management led the inspection of the ferry system with other government agencies that are part of the Pasig River Convergence Program.

Program manager Julia Nebrija said the government is planning to build 17 more stations to bring the total number of stations to 29. The new terminals are eyed along the cities of Marikina, Pasig, Taguig, Mandaluyong, Manila, all the way to the mouth of Laguna Lake.

Aside from the new terminals, 24 additional 50-seater boats will be deployed. The upgraded ferry system is expected to serve some 76,000 commuters per day or around 19.8 million a year, Nebrija told reporters on Wednesday.

Nebrija also said the government is planning to take advantage of the DBM's assistance program to city governments that aims to create more "breathing spaces" by constructing parks and esplanades that lead to the terminals.

Once construction works are completed, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the government will offer the ferry operations and maintenance to the private sector.

Currently, the  Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Pasig River ferry service runs the ferry from Pinagbuhatan in Pasig City to Plaza Mexico in Intramuros, Manila.

Pasig River rehab

Diokno also pointed out that improvements on the ferry system is "long overdue." He said that the department is looking at allocating a medium-term budget to rehabilitate the system, as well as Pasig River itself.

"The Pasig River ferry system also offers as an alternative mode of transportation if the 'Big One' happens," Diokno added, referring to the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that can happen when the West Valley Fault line moves. (READ: Is there hope for Pasig River rehab? Microorganisms can help)

Asked whether the rehabilitation of the Pasig River needs the go-signal of the President, Diokno said that they are working towards institutionalizing the program through an Executive Order.

"Ten agencies are involved but we are currently institutionalizing it. We are asking for the President to sign an EO which will then clarify the roles of the agencies," he said.

Diokno said that a technical working group (TWG) was created to coordinate and streamline programs and projects towards rehabilitation and utilization of the Pasig River.

The TWG includes the MMDA, the Department of Transportation, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Tourism, Department of the Interior and Local Government, the National Economic and Development Authority, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, and the Laguna Lake Development Authority. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.