It’s the Chinese new year and I wanted to revisit Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world. I knew celebrations this 2021 will be quite different due to the pandemic. But since I haven’t been to this part of Manila, I thought it would be interesting to bike around the area. This time, I went bimodal too. Trying out the Pasig River Ferry service from Guadalupe to Escolta, then back to San Joaquin, Pasig in the evening. So how is it like to travel on a water vessel with my folding bike this pandemic?
Pasig River Ferry Service
The Pasig River Ferry Service (PRFS) has got to be one of the most inconsistent form of transport in Metro Manila. Since reviving its operation in 2007, operation has been on and off. It is sad to see how underutilized this form of commute is. Boat commute is fast, comfortable, and scenic. Aside from the inconvenience of hyacinth overgrowth once in a while and storms, there’s little traffic by the river. Other countries like Singapore have used their ferries as attractions and transport. I think we should too.
Late 2019 and early 2020, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which runs the line restarted promoting the service amidst traffic getting heavy in the metro. They even offered free rides for months. Then the pandemic happened. Service halted. By mid-year around August 2020, PRFS ran again to service frontline workers. By September and October 2020, they have opened the line for public commuters.
Even with the Pasig River Ferry service running, their operations seems to be hush-hush. They don’t post schedules on their Facebook page so it’s hard to get info. Good thing I live in Pasig and there are at least 3 ferry stations easily accessible from my area. I biked to Guadalupe station and tried my luck. I arrived at noon and luckily, there’s a ferry leaving for Escolta at 12:30 PM.
Guadalupe is one of the 11 stations running along the river line. Here are the list of stations:
|Escolta||Muelle dela Industria, Escolta, Manila City||beside Jones Bridge|
|Lawton||Manila City||near Quezon Bridge, Plaza Lawton and Post Office|
|PUP||PUP Mabini Campus, PUP, Sta. Mesa||beside the Philippine Coast Guard Station|
|Sta. Ana||Pedro Gil Street, St. Ana, Manila City||near the Sta. Ana Public Market & Savemore|
|Lambingan||Bautista Street, Brgy. 897, Zone 99, Punta, Sta. Ana, Manila City||across Tomas Earnshaw School|
|Valenzuela||A. Bonifacio Street, Makati City||near Bonaventure Garden Homes, Riverside Studios Manila & LTO Makati District Office|
|Hulo||Coronada Street, Mandaluyong City||near the Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned|
|Guadalupe||JP Rizal Extension, Makati City||near the MRT Guadalupe Station at Commercial Mall|
|San Joaquin||San Bernardo Street, Pasig City||between Sumilang and Bambang Bridge|
|Maybunga||Dr. Sixto Avenue, Pasig City||behind Maybunga Barangay Hall|
|Pinagbuhatan||Eusebio Avenue, Pasig City||beside the Coast Guard Station at C6 Bridge|
I think I understand why MMDA doesn’t post fixed schedules at their Facebook page as each station varies. And schedules may change overtime especially this pandemic. But one thing common.
- PRFS Operates from Monday to Sunday* with first strip around 6:30 AM (from Pinagbuhatan) last trip at 5:30 PM (from Escolta)
*San Joaquin at the moment only operates from Monday to Saturday. So it is best to check with the nearest ferry station on the current schedules.
This one is for Guadalupe to Escolta station. Among the ferry stations, Guadalupe is probably the most active and strategic since it is near the Guadalupe MRT station.
|Morning Trip||Afternoon Trip|
Here’s an updated schedule posted by the MMDA Pasig River Ferry Service Facebook Page. (Updated as of March 6, 2021):
At the moment the PRFS is FREE.
Things to Know Before Riding the Ferry
Since we’re still in the pandemic era, here are reminders before going for a ferry ride:
- Face mask and face shield are required when entering the stations.
- Bring a valid ID.
- Contact tracing form and manifesto will need to be filled up and signed
- A ticket/stub will be given which will be dropped off at the station where commuter will alight
- Try to arrive 15 minutes before departure
- The ferries operate on a reduced capacity (one-seat apart unless you live on the same household)
- Folding bikes are welcome on board as long as they are folded.
- Video and photography is not allowed in the Malacañang area (between PUP and Lawton stations)
- Schedules may suddenly change depending on river and weather conditions
Ferry Ride to Escolta and back
I never though I’d be excited to ride the Pasig River Ferry again. I can’t remember the last time I did. It offers a different perspective of the city aside from the city roads I usually traverse. Guadalupe station was clean and orderly aside from the minor constructions being done. Staffs at all the stations I passed through were very helpful and accommodating. Kudos to everyone at Guadalupe, Escolta and San Joaquin stations. Some observations:
- Pasig river looks (and smells) cleaner. Didn’t notice any fishy stench
- I love the murals along the river. It made the scenery more vibrant.
- I boarded two different boats. I’m not sure on how many fleets are operating at the moment but I like the bigger boat on my way back to Pasig.
- Boarding and alighting was smooth. They also leave on time.
- I enjoyed the sunset ride. I think the city skyline looks wonderful in the evening by the river.
- It did made Manila more accessible by bike from Pasig or Makati.
For updated information on the Pasig River Ferry service, follow:
Facebook: MMDA Pasig River Ferry Service
Twitter: Official MMDA Twitter
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.