GEORGE TOWN: The much-awaited new ferry service from Pangkalan Raja Tun Uda (PRTU) here, to Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (PSAH) in Butterworth commenced full operations today.
Caretaker Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow said the four new ferries namely Teluk Bahang, Teluk Kampi, Teluk Duyung and Teluk Kumbar, operate 68 two-way daily trips running every 20 minutes during peak hours and 30 minutes during non-peak hours.
He said both the terminals have also been upgraded to provide comfort to passengers while waiting for their ferry, adding that the waiting area is installed with air-conditioning system, security cameras and lift facilities for people with disabilities (OKU).
“I am aware that before this, the issue among passengers was the unpleasant waiting area conditions. So, from today, we will see a remarkable change,” he told the media after the launch of the new ferry service at PRTU.
He said ferry commuters will enjoy free shuttle service from today until Sept 7, and each ferry is able to accommodate 150 passengers and 50 motorcycles at any one time.
In addition, Chow said he would look into the use of water taxis to connect parts of the island and Seberang Perai as a faster way to travel through the long coastline.
“The state government will cooperate with the transport ministry in exploring a water-based transport system that can function more efficiently,” he said.
Meanwhile, former teacher Utam Singh, 75, said even though he has moved to Kulim, Kedah, he did not want to miss the opportunity of taking a ride on the new ferries which are more sophisticated.
“I have been using the Penang ferry since the 50s, from Penang to Perai Railway Station. Then came the next generation and I believe they are more comfortable and faster than before,” he said.
Hospital medical assistant Fairul Nizan Misni, 30, said the ferry service ensures safety and he depends on the ferry to travel between Padang Serai to Hospital Penang which takes 50 minutes per trip.
“At times, on the long journey home I can take a nap or just rest while travelling on the ferry, instead of having to encounter the heavy traffic and strong cross winds when travelling on the Penang Bridge,” he said.