Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto on Thursday, April 5, expressed hopes that the rehabilitation plan of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the Pasig River service would not suffer the same fate of the Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) Metro Rail Transport (MRT).
“I have always said that because the ferry has been sunk by DoTR’s disinterest, other agencies should bail it out. And I am glad that (DBM) Secretary (Benjamin Diokno) has put himself on the captain’s seat,” he said in a statement.
Recto said he was hopeful that under Mr. Diokno, “this maritime MRT – or Manila River Transport – will not suffer the same fate as the DOTR-run Metro Rail Transit.”
Recto reiterated his observation that the cost of reviving Pasig River as “a people-mover is less compared to the expensive land-based solutions like trains and elevated expressways.”
Pasig River, he said, “is a nautical highway that is wider than the widest road.”
“It is toll-free. It is ready to use. It is not beset by right-of-way issues. Unlike roads, its rehabilitation will not cause traffic jams,” Mr. Recto said.
“There is no need to import trains and wait years for their delivery because the boats can be procured locally, from Cavite, Batangas, Bataan, and Cebu, where there is a thriving shipbuilding industry,” Mr. Recto said.
Mr. Diokno on Wednesday, April 4, led officials from 30 government agencies on an inspection tour of the Pasig River ferry, route and stations.
The DBM chief said they are looking at a December 2018 soft opening of a rehabilitated and privatized ferry service, which would have 24 air-conditioned boats that would load and unload 19.8 million passengers annually along 29 newly-refurbished stations from Manila to Marikina.