2.18.2007

hooking up with the mutya ng pasig

It's not the ride, it's the connection.

So PGMA, in a textbook hallmark holiday gesture, launched the (newly revived) Pasig River Ferry Project on Valentine's Day 2007. The two-hulled (catamaran) ferries were even dubbed "love boats."

Gilbert Felongco, writing for Gulf News, describes the ferry service:

The new Pasig River Ferry, which covers a 27km stretch of Pasig River from the Manila Bay to Laguna Bay aims to provide commuters with alternative transport, authorities said.

According to Transport Secretary Leandro Mendoza, unlike several failed attempts in the past to introduce a mass transport system using Metro Manila's main tributary, the new ferry service will use airconditioned faster crafts and there will be more ferry stations along the stretch that traverses six cities. "The air-conditioned ferryboats will have music on board and a bar," he said.

Amenities

"The stations will likewise be airconditioned and will have such amenities as pay phones, security system and a ticketing scheme that uses both paper tickets for single journey and radio frequency ID for stored value tickets," Mendoza said.

During yesterday's inaugural run of the ferry, Arroyo boarded the twin-hull catamaran from the presidential palace to the service's station in Guadalupe, one of the 15 ferry stops. Mendoza said that each terminal would cost 80 million pesos (Dh6.15 million).

Apart from the initial three catamaran-type ferries, another six will be added in the third quarter of this year. The revival of the ferry service is a government project financed by the Asian Development Bank to tap the potential of the Pasig River as an alternative transport corridor to help decongest traffic in Metro Manila.

Here's my advice to Secretary Mendoza: the onboard music and bar isn't important. The ferry stations are.

As far as networks go, it's a case of the proverbial weakest link. The airconditioned stations and the fancy ticketing system is worth jackshit unless commuters can smoothly connect to another transportation mode to get to their destination.

Making the Pasig River Ferry convenient (and the investment strategic) means, among other things, that:

More after the jump...

  • There should be a fast shuttle from the Makati Poblacion ferry station to the Makati central business district.
  • There should be pedestrian infrastructure that connects the Guadalupe ferry landing to the MRT station. (And, in the future, another fast shuttle to Fort Bonifacio.)
  • The end nodes, Sta. Elena and Del Pan, should have park & ride (and kiss & ride) lots so people can drop of their cars and get onto the ferry. (That'll reduce the number of cars on our main arterials!)
  • Nearby jeepney and bus routes should be re-routed to have them pass right in front of the ferry stations.
  • More importantly, the national goverment should look at available goverment properties (or foreclosed properties) around the ferry stations and redevelop them for affordable and middle income housing. So we can have (say it with me folks) Transit Oriented Development -then people can live near the ferry and take it to work or to school.
I think it is clearly a function of our auto-oriented elitism (and auto-riding elite) that condescendingly thinks airconditioning and music makes the ride. The decisionmakers all ride cars -and never take public transport and so don't understand what will really make it work. It shows clearly in how our investments in mass transit don't make the logical connections.

In transportation, it is connectivity that matters. Not the fancy amenities.

Or to paraphrase that veritas of real estate, as far as transportation goes, what matters is "connection, connection, connection"


Image credit: Pasig River Stations.

2 comments:

engineerOFW said...

There is a lot of money to be made here. The real estate angle alone is very promising.

Urbano dela Cruz said...

engineerOFW,

I'm not at all averse to making real estate hay out of this project, but I would prefer two preconditions:

-that the real estate provides affordable housing options (like say a 10-20% set-aside for teacher's housing for all residential units in a project)

-that the project increases the use of the ferry as alternative transport -thereby leveraging the government's investment

The government could also add more incentives to the package (like a tax holiday) if the project is sizeable enough to provide a sewer-stormwater retention and cleaning system - to help reduce pollutants entering the river.

Making money is fine. Leveraging the profit motive to extract more public good is even better!

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