Not enough for RapidPenang to maintain existing skeleton ferry service


Prasarana must quickly increase the number of ferries in operation after the disastrous experience under the privatised Penang Port Sdn Bhd.

This is one the major problems with privatisation: private owners tend to cherry-pick profitable operations (in this case, the port operations) and let loss-making services (like the ferry service, which is an essential public service) deteriorate or discard them altogether.

After the takeover by RapidPenang on 1 July 2017, it is not enough for the new federal owners to maintain the number of ferries and number of trips in the existing service, which had been drastically slashed to just a skeleton service.

At present only four ferries are running during peak hours, which is totally inadequate. At night, the situation is worse, with only one ferry in operation. After 9.30pm or so, ferries to George Town arrive only only once an hour until about 1am, after which there are no more ferries. I wonder if federal and state leaders are even aware of this deplorable state of affairs. It is a far cry from the dozen or so ferries in service in the 1970s and 1980s.

The present skeleton service is simply unacceptable to long-suffering commuters. Many have just given up on the ferry service. Butterworth-George Town (and areas further north) cross-channel motorists have to burn unnecessary fuel by taking, a much longer route to use the bridge, and in doing so they clog up the Jelutong Expressway. If we had a better, expanded ferry service serving more routes, we wouldn’t even have to hear all that talk over a new tunnel or a third bridge.

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RapidPenang now has a good opportunity to introduce an integrated ticketing system for cross-channel passengers, while synchronising ferry arrivals and departures with the schedules of the KTM electric and commuter trains and RapidPenang buses.

It is disappointing that the ferry service was not handed to the Penang state government to manage.

But in the medium term, with a more enlightened federal government in Putrajaya one day, public transport across the nation should be decentralised to the state and local levels. RapidPenang should then be handed over to the state government. So too the two Penang bridges.

In a state like Penang, a Penang Sustainable Mobility Commission should be set up to plan, regulate and look into the financing of the various public transport services in the state. The tolls from the Penang Bridge could be used to subsidise public transport (including the ferries) infrastructure and operations in the state.

So the handover of the ferries to RapidPenang should be seen as the first part of this longer-term decentralisation move.

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  1. At least Damien is very constructive & offers creative solutions without playing the spinning dramas.
    This is what useful comment we should encourage, not toxic gurgles which serve no purpose, much less to help enlighten that Niao Kong of its perennial arrogance & bad sandiwaras.

    Anyway, I am not worried of any less or no dedak coming (when one feels the heat is on the spinners or trolls) as I am not on the take of such addiction. Unlike some who take on new names to create more noise than constructive comments to justify for more dedaks!

    Less dedak, means less Wanton Mee (or no Wanton Mee) for dinner???

    (no wonder it was spun with CO2 emission reasoning of toxic spinning proportion)

    Q: Do you want Penang solely for the rich + famous or solely for the poor + middle class or for all stratas of society? Anil, this is a contentious topic for your blog to highlight & for CAT gomen to chew on.

    • Who is spilling toxic? One can spill out anything but cannot contradict himself. Otherwise it show oneself has no moral and principles just like what happen to those top guns in leading the nation. Telling to tighten yourself but spending like sailor man. Telling to care for the poor but himself wants to cater the ferries for the rich. You critise state leaders for their morals worse than top guns with contribution from Calvin but yourself is no better. Of some want more freedom but there are others warn what happen to Libya, Iraq and Syria.

  2. Guan Eng hopes Prasarana can reduce wait for ferries

    GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is optimistic there will be a turnaround in the ailing ferry services between here and Butterworth once public transport operator Prasarana takes over.

    Prasarana has been slated to take over the reins of the service from federal-linked Penang Port Sdn Bhd, The Star reported today.

    Lim said given Prasarana’s good track record in providing public bus service in Penang, the ferry services would be no different.

    “We want to keep an open mind and remain hopeful Prasarana will do well when it takes over the ferry services.

    “RapidPenang (Prasarana’s bus service in the state) has improved greatly over the past few years.
    “We see the people running RapidPenang are committed and professional,” he said at a press conference today.

    Prasarana, a government-linked company, runs rail and bus services in several towns and cities in the country.

    The company has not made any statements on the ferry matter, but uploaded a “Rapid Ferry” logo as a teaser on its Facebook page on Friday.

    Lim said during a courtesy call by Prasarana’s bosses a few months ago, Penang was assured that waiting time for ferries would be reduced after the takeover.

    Lim said Prasarana also had planned to introduce a number of catamaran-type ferries, which were quicker than the traditional ferries in use now.

    He said the existing ferries will be in service together with catamarans for the heritage value as the barges were seen as an iconic symbol of Penang.

    Previously, the Penang government had offered to take over the ferry services from Penang Port.

    However, the state government had insisted that it be given total independence from the regulators, that is the Penang Port Commission, as Lim said there would otherwise be undue political interference.

    Penang also sought to get 30 licences for “water taxis” and for all the losses of the ferry services unit to be absorbed, before the state government purchased it.

    Lim said since there was no reply on their requests, the offer fell through.

    On a different note, Lim also said the Penang Port operator must keep its promise to deepen the channel.
    He said as per an agreement signed three years ago, the current channel’s seabed depth, which stands at 11.5m, must be deepened another 3m to 14.5m.

    Lim said the cost of doing so was RM353 million and was supposed to be borne by Seaport Terminal, the parent company of Penang Port Sdn Bhd.

    My Suggestion: Since Prasarana will takeover Penang Ferry, how about a joint-venture (after taking over) with state gomen which can input some improvements & maybe bring forth an integrated transport initiative? We may see some rainbows.

    • Now You want niao kong to help out on rapid ferries? Now you want niao kong to to turn the ferries for the rich with sunset cruise, cruise to no where and parties in the internation water? Whst a twister, spinner and 2 faces

      • Give due recognition to Penang state gomen where necessary.
        Why must we deny?
        Be a gentleman…
        If you have no creativity at all (since you are not a Penangite, who has some experience of happenings in Penang), pls abstain from commenting with poison & opportunistic spinning.
        Btw, sunset cruise & thematic parties were the rage of Pg Ferries during Gerakan time. Nothing new for you to spin out of context.

      • Tunglang you give recognition to pg Gomen as develper’s party, cater for the rich and in partner with Calvin howl … at CAT. Calvin is true blue saga seed and now is time for him to divert attention over DOJ relevation. Now you are caught red handed that you cares for the rich to party and leisure at poor man’s expense. One more ferry at rich man’s party and leisure means one ferry less and make the poor to wait longer. Your slogan housing for the working is just a disguise to forward your agenda.
        What so creative about sunset cruise? It is a cruise for the rich. You think Syed do not think about them? But you are dedak that ferry services are bound by port Commission acts. Further you are leading pg ferry into big trouble. You love the ferry to have sunset cruise when ferry service are under performing rest of the time?
        How can you ask rapid who is using our taxpayer’s money (hope you pay tax and get too) to run leisure cruise to no where? Like Calvin says, the true blue saga seed love to hold the control over the bus and ferry service.

      • You definitely didn’t witness what 308 stands for.
        Promises of progress for ‘all’ i.e. rich, middle class & poor.

        We definitely don’t go for development & progress solely for the rich + famous like the present pervasive high-end development in the name of financing PTMP.
        CAT gomen have strayed from 308, became arrogant & is run by one accountant.

        We want to UBAH this status quo. We Penangites. Not some PJ trollers in toxic-daze.

        Penang Ferry can transform, modernise (with catamarans, modern ferries) & simultaneously preserve its iconic ferries.
        All it needs is a creative approach to manage & make some decent profits from events & thematic use of iconic ferries, while at the same time serve the public with better & faster catamarans / modern ferries.
        We believe CAT gomen can contribute its no-corruption expertise & Penang-centric policies.

        Toxic argument is useless to begin with Penang Ferry.

      • Again two face man. Howl and deride at PTMP and now want pg gomen to contribute to pg ferry transport plan with CAT amrans? Who is releasing the toxity at the Ferry? Your good friend Kalvin approves for he said PJ does not want pg gomen to have some control over its project otherwise there will be no finding eat for PJ.

      • CAT government not perfect but please do not jeopardise your future by bringing back Gerakan (and Umno), or believing in the nonsense from PCM’s Huan.

  3. The bottom line for all privatized services are to squeeze as much profits as possible they can. Service and convenience for the consumers are secondary. For them. the ferry service is a nostalgic mode of public transport that will require substantial reinvestment and headache. It would have been ideal for the Penang State Government to have stepped in and taken it over, but local politics and privatization being what they are, it is the poor public who will bear the burden and loss of an alternative way to travel back and forth from the island to the mainland. Perhaps they may think of renting out canoes to make a quick buck!

  4. Be creative, use ferries to serve fabulous food to attract customers, that help to overcome operating cost. Regular shuttlers can have breakfast, lunch or dinner on ferries.

    • This was done on ad hoc basis in the later 90s without much creative promotion or passion by Penang Port.
      They sold off a few ferries, one to Eden in Johor (wonder what has happened to it now).

      There were plans to introduce aluminium speed ferries (to replace the iconic ferries) under an integrated Butterworth Terminal Hub during Badawi’s tenure but this did not come to fruition.

      The problem? Ask the political discriminative Feds.

    • you expect us to complete our lunch and dinners within 20 minutes? how about ordering time and time to cook? even it takes 4 mins to microwave a dish. what happen if there are 20 orders?

      • Wedding dinner, thematic dinner party, thematic events, etc.
        This is off the normal routine run, i.e. a ferry ride solely for private events.
        Very profitable business ventures to attract event companies, tourist agents, hotels, airlines, cruise ship companies.

        So, pls don’t knee-jerk like there’s no more tomorrow …

      • now who is favouring the rich? penang gomen cannot but tunglang says rapid under federal can

      • Now who is talking of making money and care for the rich to enjoy their private events.this means one less boat for the poor and rich has money to shout and push people around.
        What a bright spark.

      • Vicky, you are spinning like zoro. Or are u a spin-off of zoro, the ‘cha-bo’???
        This is my hunch.

    • Don’t divert the topic and listen to your mate Calvin just as he told others. Stick to the point that any ferry being use for your party is making the poor wait longer. The poor has no.other means of transport. You can drive to get your one ton mee. You want the poor to be channel swimmer.


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