The government must tap the full potential of the Pasig River “as a nautical road” which can ease the “terrible congestion” on Metro Manila roads, Sen. Sonny Angara suggested Thursday.
Given Metro Manila’s barely-moving traffic, Angara scored the lack of attention in optimizing “a maritime highway that is wider than EDSA.”
“I think the first order of business is to make the ferry system financially buoyant again,” Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, said.
He said next year’s proposed P74 million national government subsidy “is clearly not enough“ for the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to run a ferry service on the river’s original 15-kilometer service route.
“We are open to increasing the subsidy if the MMDA can submit a program on where the additional subsidy would be spent,” Angara said.
The Department of Budget and Management- proposed Pasig ferry subsidy “for one whole year is what government will spend in just five days in 2020 to subsidize the MRT 3 operations.”
“Yang P74 million na proposed subsidy for 2020, may nakapagsabi na limang kilometro lang ‘yan ng asphalt overlay sa isang lane ng EDSA,” Angara said.
During its peak more than a decade ago, 10 air-conditioned boats traversed the 15-kilometer, 17-station Manila to Pasig route.
To revive the service, Angara said a “master plan with yearly expansion, funding and performance targets” is required.
“We can pursue the modernization in annual installments,” he said.
On August 2016, the Department of Transportation pegged at P2.65 billion the cost of 20 new 100-passenger vessels, rehabilitation of 10 passenger terminals and annual river dredging.