Be prepared for more traffic jams on the bridge

A warning to those commuting between the island and the mainland for work and education purposes because it is not going be get any easier.

PPSB or Penang Port has decided to scrap the vehicular ferry service (the ferries that only takes vehicles) immediately after the completion of the expansion of the bridge. Their excuse? Not enough income to sustain the service, or so they claimed! Read this:

News taken from The Star:

Sunday March 30, 2008

Penang plans to scrap vehicular ferry service

BUTTERWORTH: The Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) will scrap the vehicular ferry service between Penang island and Seberang Prai once the expansion of the Penang Bridge is completed in September next year.

PPSB chief operating officer Mohd Niana Merican Abd Kadir Merican said the remaining four vehicular-cum-passenger ferries would continue to operate despite suffering operating losses.

He said the company also planned to operate a speedboat ferry service as it was cheaper and efficient.

“The speedboat idea was mooted three years ago. Travel time between the island and mainland on speedboats will only take eight to 10 minutes compared with 20 minutes using the ferry,” he told reporters at the launching of free tuition classes for 141 of the port’s staff members at Wisma Perkeso in Seberang Jaya yesterday.

PPSB, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Finance Ministry after its corporatisation on Jan 1, 1994, has been incurring an annual loss of RM12mil operating the ferries. It also manages the port.

Mohd Niana said the company was losing about RM200 on each ferry trip, adding that the operating cost was RM600 while revenue collected was RM400.

He said the bridge would have three lanes on each side and a special motorcycle lane when the expansion work was completed.

“It will be able to accommodate the huge traffic volume and as such, we will be able to scrap the vehicular ferry services and reduce our losses,” he added.

In November last year, PPSB held talks with the ministry to take over the maintenance of ferry services. PPSB chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Ibnihajar said then that it had requested for fuel subsidy and buying of catamarans to complement the ferry services.

Ahmad also said the Government should emulate Hong Kong where the municipality handled maintenance while the port management focused only on giving better services to port users.

He had also said that PPSB had to fulfil its social responsibility and could not simply increase the ferry fares to recoup losses.

Err...let me get this straight, they don't have money to run the ferry service for vehicles but they have RM80mil to pay some contractor to reclaim 63 acres of land? (To read about this, I posted about it a few days ago here)

Hmmm...it must be darn expensive to run the ferry service.

Seems that they are incurring losses of RM12mil annually so where the heck did they get the RM80 mil? The money dropped from the sky?

Also, the cars paying RM7.70 each is not enough? And I wonder how they calculate the operating cost of RM600 for each trip. Hmmm...another case of buying a set of screwdrivers at the inflated price of RM200? No, no, no...maybe they are paying their employees RM10,000 each per month so they have very high overhead costs....

I don't know...it just seem suspicious that they suddenly decided to do away with the vehicular ferry service.

As for the speedboat ferry service. Errr...hello? Haven't you been harping on the thing for years and years but it just never did materialise? I thought PPSB has scrapped this also because they said it costs millions to buy new speedboats and could not afford it???

Ohh...suddenly you can afford to buy a fleet of new speedboats costing whoknows how many millions but can't afford to keep the vehicular ferries going? Anyone smell a rat anywhere?

Methinks the ferries needed sea-faring cats to do some mousing here and get rid of the rats causing this spate of stinking news.

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