Private operators of the newly-launched Cavite-Manila Ferry Service agreed to provide free seaborne transportation to the public for its 1st month of operation.
During the launch of the project dubbed “#OkayKaFerryKo”, ferry operators Seaborne Shipping Company Inc. and Shogun Ships Co. Inc. have initially committed to provide the service for free beginning Monday (December 9) until January 9, 2020.
Vicente Cordero Jr., chairman and CEO of Shogun, later agreed to extend the provision of free ferry service for the Cavite Port-Lawton route until January 31, 2020 following a request from Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade.
Shogun’s MV “Island Sabtang,” with a passenger capacity of 57, will ply the route from the Cavite City Port Ferry Terminal (CCPT) to the Quezon Bridge Ferry Terminal in Lawton (along Pasig River), and vice versa.
The MB Seaborne Mercury, with a passenger capacity of 27, meanwhile, will ferry passengers from the CCPT to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Bay Terminal, and vice versa.
In a bulletin, the DOTr said each trip from both routes would take less than hour as compared to the usual three hours or more of land travel between the two cities.
The fare for both routes, PHP160 for the CCPT to Lawton route and PHP200 for the CCPT to CCP route, may lower as the department continues to push for more competitive pricing, it added.
Although the ferry service was initially limited to two vessels, Tugade said talks are ongoing with the existing ferry operators to expand the service further.
“Nag-uusap kami ni Mr. Cordero, by next month, pwede kayong magdagdag ng dalawa hanggang tatlo. Kausap din ho namin yung Seaborne… magdadagdag din sila (Mr. Cordero and I are in talks, by next month, they could add two, up to three vessels in the ferry service. We are also in talks with Seaborne… they will add also),” Tugade said.
He said the ferry service will soon include other routes such as between Sangley Point in Cavite City and the Mall of Asia (MoA) in Pasay City.
“Meron tayong yung Sangley — umpisahan natin (DOTr Asst. Sec. for Procurement and Project Implementation Giovanni “Banoy” Lopez) by next week siguro (maybe) — Sangley-MoA,” Tugade said.
Routes from Tanza and Naic in Cavite were also being eyed by the DOTr because of availability of existing port facilities.
“Hindi naman ho siguro aabutin ng matagalan yan. Lalo na sa Tanza, kasi na-identify na natin kung saan dadaong, yung vessel na lang (It’s probably not going to take long. Especially in Tanza because we already identified where to drop anchor, it’s just the vessel remaining),” Tugade said.
Other ferry operators, he said, are also welcome to apply until “critical economic mass” is achieved.
“Hindi naman ho pwedeng basta tanggapin mo lahat yan. Lalo na kapag marami na at meron naman nauna (We can’t accept all. Especially when there are too many of them and there’s already someone else operating within the route),” Tugade said.
He added that the ferry service is only a part of the DOTr’s “basket of solutions” to help solve the issue of vehicular congestion in Metro Manila.
To ensure the safety of passengers, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Spokesperson, Capt. Armando Balilo, in an interview following the launch, said PCG Commandant, Vice Adm. Joel Garcia gave a directive for the PCG to establish a security post at the CCPT — especially due to the expected high number of passengers during the free period of the service.
During the operational dry run of the Sangley Airport in Cavite in October, Tugade announced efforts to bring “water jeepneys” to the nation’s capital.
Water jeepneys, or a point-to-point ferry service, was an offshoot of a concept developed in Cebu, Tugade said. (PNA)