New Penang passenger ferry – trips under 10 minutes – paultan.org

With the end of the line looming for the long-running Penang ferry, passenger transport between the island and the peninsula will be served by new water buses in the form of two fast boats from January 1, as cars will need to use the two Penang bridges from that point, The Star reports.

The new fast passenger ferries will take less than 10 minutes to make each crossing, compared to the older and more breakdown-prone double-decker ferries which can take more than 20 minutes each way, and will be a temporary alternative until the ferry terminals have been refitted in order for newer, high-tech water buses and vehicular ferries to dock, according to the report.

Upgrading works to the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth and the Raja Tun Uda ferry terminal in Weld Quay will take place from January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, and the fast passenger ferries will serve during this interim period, said Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) chief operating officer Radhi Mohamad.

The two fast boat ferries can each take 200 passengers, travelling at a speed of 12 to 15 knots (22-27 km/h), with each crossing to take 10 minutes during peak hours and 15 minutes at non-peak times, with a maximum of 40 trips to be taken a day, the COO said, adding that the existing pontoon at the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) will be used during the interim phase.

“A new bus stop, signalised zebra crossing and pedestrian walkway will be built near the pier along Weld Quay for the safety and convenience of pedestrians. Shuttle services will be provided for the elderly, disabled and pregnant women on both sides during this period,” he said.

During Phase Two of the interim period, a heavy-duty lift will be installed at the Butterworth terminal to make life easier for the disabled and those with bigger luggage,” Radhi added.

A new vehicle transporter will join the water fleet in 2022, and it will have the capacity to accommodate 100 motorcycles. This new vessel will operate at 12 knots (22 km/h) and take between 12 to 15 minutes for each crossing, and a proposal has been put forth for the acquisition of two units and for operations to start July 2022 or sooner, said Radhi.

Currently, just one of the existing ferries will remain in service for vehicles from January 1, though this will be only for two-wheelers – motorcycles and bicycles, until this is replaced by the new vehicle transporter, Penang Port (PPSB) CEO Sasedharan Vasudevan said last week. Currently, the proposed schedule for the water bus and water wheeler is for between 6:30am and 11pm, according to the news daily.

Naturally, some sentimentality remains for the iconic ferries. “The state government has conveyed its stand to the Transport minister and Penang Port. Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow said the Penang state government wishes for the new ferries to retain ‘the iconic, heritage look’, while Penang Tourist Guides Association vice president Clement Liang hopes that the old ferries will be preserved in some way as a heritage reference, the report said.

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