Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Taking a ferry boat ride again in the city

The over 20 kilometer MMDA Pasig Ferry ride from Escolta in Manila to Pinagbuhatan in Rizal costs me P 95 pesos and 90 minutes in time excluding stops and connecting land trips.

The full stretch was split into two trips, the 1st part at the upper urban section from Old Manila to Guadalupe and the 2nd from Guadalupe to the mouth of the Pasig River converging to Laguna da Bay in Pinagbuhatan. Operational stations were Plaza Mexico, Escolta, Sta Mesa PUP, Sta Ana, Guadalupe and Pinagbuhatan.

Boat used was matched with the number of passengers per trip.  6 passengers from Escolta to Guadalupe sat in an 28 seater open boat while the sole passenger from Guadalupe to Pinagbuhatan (me) was transported in a 6 seater boat. I was brought to Pinagbuhatan by 5 crew, the operator, navigator and 3 aides. Boat was manned by an all MMDA crew except for the portion in front of Malacanang where a coast guard joined the ride. Ride was well documented and properly communicated to a base. Passengers signed a manifesto, time of departure and arrival were logged and reported, life vests installed in every passenger's seat and head count regularly made. Schedule though was not strictly followed to the minute.

Speed was determined by the state of the water and the landmarks. It travelled very slowly at the Malacanan Palace, fast and slow in some bends and fast at the Pasig side. Sights of interest other than the traditional landmarks and ferry stations were the bridges the most popular are Jones, Ayala, Mabini, Guadalupe.

When launched, it was meant to provide the commuters an alternative means of transport from East to West and vice versa. However, with the patronage, schedules, waiting time and the boat sizes it does not seem like an alternative means of mass transport.

The experience was refreshing. Wind from the moving board provided the breeze. Ride provided a change of pace from the routinary ride of the metro rails. There were no turnpikes, no announcement on the stations and as of this ride, no mad rush to get out of the station.  For someone with an affinity for water, the Pasig river traverse was a relaxing and even a rejuvenating one.

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