Travelling on the road systems within Manila is a challenge at the best of times. Over recent years it has increasingly consumed valuable time for everyone who needs to travel across the city for business or leisure.
The hectic rise of more and more buildings and condominiums means thousands of more vehicles, and overload is a fact of life in a city that has essentially no more space for roads. “Traffic” is the buzz word for life in the city and road travel has definitely become a nightmare.
In this modern age a major concern is the use of fossil fuels which are a massive pollutant, and clearly create a cloud of tainted air, that constantly strangles the breath of every city dweller. Poor air is only one aspect, supported by the constant noise of throbbing engines let alone the denuding of our earth through continued mining of these resources of energy. Then there is the state of play within the minds of road users, who consistently blow their horns while caught in the hideous frustration and trap of “traffic”.
Travel by water is another possibility, and the 25 kilometre long Pasig River has offered a limited alternative. Over the years various ferry services have come and gone, and right at the moment a trip from Intramuros to Makati is on offer for a relaxing “no traffic” trip along the waters that flow between Manila Bay and the inland lake of Laguna Bay.
The Pasig River ferry route linking Intramuros, Binondo, Manila, Santa Ana, Makati, Mandaluyong, Guadalupe and Pasig City is now set to take on a magic change.
The well established high class Rouvia Road Shipyard in Mariveles in Bataan at the mouth of Manila Bay has been deep in soak on a project that will upgrade ferry travel to a new level of excellence, convenience and economic brilliance.
Generally ‘environmental issues’ have become more and more of a necessary priority. Meanwhile public passenger comfort has noticeably gone downhill in Manila with travel times getting longer and longer as ‘traffic’ throttles road and train transport choices, and passenger crowding getting worse, so that the commuter arrives at work already buckled and frustrated before work begins ....not an ideal start for every working day!
City life increasingly soaks up fossil fuels amid unadulterated noise both from frustrated drivers as well as thundering engines.
The vision is changing, and there will be light at the end of the tunnel, well at least all along the Pasig River – Solar Powered ferry boats will bring in this new era for those lucky enough to be able to key in and use this method of commuting.
A feasibility study for the Pasig River Ferry Service Project has been conducted and is aimed at “the introduction of a reinvigorated public transport mode”. Commuters were traced via location centroids, nodes and links establishing their origins from 265 city zones and another 125 neighboring provincial zones. The survey also traced the volume of commuters travelling parallel or crossing the Pasig River during the hours of 6 AM to 8 PM. By 6 AM, which was the peak hour, there were over an estimated 13,000 travellers moving along the routes alongside the Pasig River, and even at 7 PM the numbers were around 6,500. Throughout the working day the numbers varied within these two extremities. All in all, painting a picture of hyper activity, which can only increase into the future as further urban business developments appear to be growing incessantly. The demand for labor is rising and clearly the numbers of commuters will escalate into the foreseeable future.
Commuters key into their travelling modes depending on affordability, travel time, comfort, convenience and accessibility, reliability and order, safety and security. Out of all these items the most important factor turns out to be ‘travel time’, and this is where the road systems in Manila score increasingly poorly.
Given that time is the most important component of travel for commuters, the other critical items for consideration on all journeys turn out to be access time, waiting time, ride time, transfer time and exit convenience time. Of these, ‘ride time’ was voted number one in the conducted survey amongst commuters, and this aspect confirms that a trip unhindered by traffic would be a blissful dream but no doubt an impossible reality.
The Solar Key
Travelling in the tropics is often regulated by the intensity of the sun, and the willingness to face it during the heat of the day. The dry season between late November through to late May pumps up the heat, while the rest of the year is tempered by rains that cool down the sweltering temperatures. However, by capturing the rays of the sun throughout the year there is another solution that brilliantly captures another use for this natural resource that is currently untapped. New technology can tap and convert solar energy to power engines. Ferry boats on the Pasig River can focus on this solar key.
The Solar Potential
Passenger demand for the proposed Pasig River Ferry Service has brought out statistics which point to a potential magic formula. Travelling at up to 15 knots, with up to 100 passengers, on boats passing by terminals every 10 minutes all at points near to other land transport links and powered by the solar key, is an obvious formula destined for a booming future of commuting - away from road traffic and blessed with guaranteed travel times not upset by traffic on roads that are already cluttered and brim full of vehicles.
The survey estimated that faster ferry speeds with a more frequent service could rack up a daily demand taken from the estimated 140,000 commuters passing by the immediate area in the early period of operations. This assumes that the efficiency of the service will be supported by full and regular ferry maintenance systems. The passenger numbers will burgeon up as the number of commuters increases over the years ahead, and thereby the ferry service will provide an essential alternative transport system to commuters in an economy which is currently in boom times.
Solar Ferry Sunrise
The Rouvia Road shipyard in Mariveles, Bataan, is already on side, and the final ferry boat plans have been approved.
The so-called ‘Greenline Ferry’ has a comprehensive list of benefits and advantages. Starting with no CO2 emission, there will be no fuel spillage from an engine that gives out no vibration and no noise. This ‘earth friendly’ solar technology is safe and reliable built into an unsinkable hull that creates no river bank erosion due to an optimized hull form. Then there is the comfort, convenience and traffic free pathway along the Pasig River for passengers lucky enough to access this brainwave system brilliantly tuned into the future using the power of the sun to key into solar energy and bring urban travelling to a new level of perfection.
Urban commuting is poised on the path to a new crossroads, and tapping solar energy will bring in the dawn of a brand new city travel sunrise.