GEORGE TOWN: Transport Minister Anthony Loke today gave a commitment that the systems upgrade for the Penang ferry service, will begin next year.
The upgrading project to be undertaken by Prasarana Malaysia Bhd (Prasarana), the owner and operator of transportation services in the country, will include the introduction of catamarans apart from establishing a tourist ferry service by using existing ferries.
“I very much understand that existing ferries have sentimental value to Penangites, so our plan is to transform these ferries into tourist ferries such as those in Bangkok,“ he said, adding that about two to three of the existing ferries would continue to be used to transport vehicles.
Speaking to reporters after the launching ceremony for Prasarana’s Mutiara Pass, Loke said the ministry had allocated RM90 million for the upgrading project but the disbursement of the funds was postponed until the legalities concerning the previous and existing ferry operators were settled.
In the meantime, Loke said Prasarana would source for funding internally to cover the cost of the upgrade and the purchase of the catamarans, as the ministry had given Prasarana its approval to go ahead with the project.
Loke had earlier launched the Mutiara Pass which provides for unlimited journeys on the Rapid Penang bus service and the Penang ferry over a 30-day period.
He said based on the successful reception of the My100 and My50 unlimited passes among commuters in the Klang Valley, the federal government had made arrangements to launch a second phase by introducing the passes to Penang.
The Mutiara Pass system will become effective on Sept 1, while the sale of the passes began on Aug 20.
The minister added that the pass system will be expanded to other states in the future, owing to the fact that transportation in the country was heading towards a cashless system.
Rapid Penang which receives a total of 16 million passengers on a yearly basis and an average of about 75,000 passengers every day based on statistics until July this year, operates with 404 buses plying a total of 71 routes.
Rapid Ferry in turn, which operates through six ferries stationed at two jetties, receives a total of 865,559 passengers and 762,498 vehicles every year, and until July this year, recorded a daily average of 3,696 passengers and 3,112 vehicles. — Bernama