THE PASIG RIVER ferry service is budgeted to expand its fleet by four boats this year, Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara said, adding to its current inventory of nine boats.

Mr. Angara said in a statement Sunday that the service has been allocated P176 million this year to make it more viable as a commuting option.

“The P176-million budget lodged with the MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) is intended to make the Pasig River ferry system more viable as a mode of transport, especially with traffic congestion on the roads of Metro Manila seemingly getting worse by the day,” Mr. Angara, who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, said.

He said the service will buy four 50-seater air-conditioned ferry boats with the funding. Of the nine boats currently in the fleet only two are operating daily.

“The skyway systems that aim to ease traffic along the major thoroughfares such as EDSA are still under construction but this doesn’t mean that we can do nothing to help our commuters. We have to look for solutions and the Pasig River ferry could help” Mr. Angara said.

The funds will also be used to improve the accessibility of ferry stations and intermodal transfer points.

“Purchasing new boats is not enough because the commuting public must be provided with easy access to the ferry stations if they are to be enticed to use this mode of transport” Mr. Angara said.

There are currently 14 ferry stations along the Pasig River, but only 11 are operational. The current system runs from the city of Pasig to Manila via Mandaluyong and Makati.

“We still have a long way to go before the revitalized ferry system that is being envisioned becomes a reality, but this is a good start. We owe it to the public to continuously provide them with solutions to problems such as traffic congestion” Mr. Angara said. — Genshen L. Espedido