“Water Jeepneys” Cut the Cavite-Manila Commute to 15 Minutes

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With hellish gridlocks in Manila roads, the government is keen on finding alternative transportation systems that will improve the mobility of commuters every day. Taking “alternative” in its pure essence, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) recently introduced “water jeepneys.” 

On December 8, DOTr formally opened the Cavite-Manila Ferry service to the public, as reported by UNTV. The water jeepneys, as the representatives call it, take passengers from Cavite City Port to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay, and to the Liwasang Bonifacio Terminal (Plaza Lawton) in Manila, and vice versa.

DOTr estimates that travel time from Cavite City Port Terminal to Liwasang Bonifacio Terminal can take up to 45 minutes. The trip from Cavite City Port Terminal to CCP, on the other hand, will only last for about 15 minutes. It’s a sharp drop from the usual three-hour travel of most bus commuters.

According to Topgear, two vessels are already providing services for passengers. MV Island Sabtang from Shogun Ships Company has a 57 seating capacity, while MB Seaborne Mercury from Seaborne Shipping Company can accommodate 27 people. 

Calling it an “early Christmas gift”, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade shared that the first month of the ferry service will be free of charge, as reported by Tribune. The promo runs from December 9 to January 9. For MV Island Sabtang, the free ride is extended until the end of January.

As for the regular fares, MB Seaborne Mercury, which takes passengers from Cavite to CCP, will charge P200 for adults, P160 for students, P143 for senior citizens, and P125 for children aged 4 to 11 years old, BusinessWorld reported. Meanwhile, MV Island Sabtang, which services the Cavite-Lawton route, will have a P160 adult fare, P128 for students, P114 for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, and P80 for children aged 4 to 11 years old

For the trip schedules, Esquire cited that MV Seaborne Mercury has 6AM, 8AM, 3:30PM, and 5:30PM. MV Island Sabtang, on the other hand, has 5:15AM, 7:45AM, and 5:45PM.

Alternative Transportation Systems

On December 9, the Pasig Ferry service was also relaunched, as Rappler reported. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Danilo Lim shared that the public can look forward to improved services, considering the additional safe and speedy boats, refurbished stations, and more manpower.

It was Pasig City local government that lent two vessels to the ferry service: M/B Mutya ng Pasig 1 and M/B Mutya ng Pasig 2, which can accommodate 57 passengers. The former was tested on the river last November. With the addition of these, the number of operational boats in the ferry service goes up to seven. Three other boats have a 36 seating capacity, while the remaining two can serve up to 16 commuters.

Modernizing the stations, the government also furnished the facilities with restrooms, free Wi-Fi, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. Currently, there are 11 stations around the metro. There are three in Pasig, in Pinagbuhatan, San Joaquin, and Maybunga; two in Makati, in Guadalupe and Valenzuela; one in Mandaluyong, in Hulo; and five in Manila, in Lambingan, Sta. Ana, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Lawton, and Escolta.

The MMDA also considers building additional stations in Quinta Market in Manila, Kalawaan in Pasig, and Circuit Market in Makati.

Meanwhile, commuters will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. Similar to the Cavite-Manila ferry service, the rides are free for passengers up until the end of January. Keeping it free until the end of 2020 was an appeal Senator Bong Go raised at the launch.

MMDA Chairman Lim shared with Inquirer that they are trying to determine how to source more funds for the project. He said that if they can’t offer free services, they would want to reduce the fees. Thus, the fare matrix isn’t finalized yet.

As for the schedule, the Pasig Ferry service has trips from Monday to Saturday. The first boat at Pinagbuhatan goes to Guadalupe as early as 7AM. The last trip in these stations is at 3:30 in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the first fleet in the Guadalupe-Escolta route travels at 6:30 in the morning. Its last trip is at 5:30 PM. 

Back in 2016, MMDA launched a mobile app showing the scheduled trips of the ferry.

With the rise of alternative transportation systems, the government is optimistic that it can help solve the traffic crisis, as well as draw tourists in key areas.

Sources: UNTV, TopGear, Tribune, BusinessWorld, Esquire, Rappler, Inquirer
Main photo via DOTr Facebook page

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