We want more ferries in Penang – not fewer!


There are only half as many ferries shuttling between Penang Island and mainland Penang as there were in the late 1970s/early 1980s – and now they are thinking of cutting back the ferry service even further?

Is this a scheme to help boost traffic on the soon-to-be-opened Second Penang Bridge – in the same way that they halved the ferry service a few years after the first Penang Bridge was opened in September 1985? (They never rebuilt the old ferry terminal on the mainland that collapsed in July 1988 under the weight of about 10000 passengers thronging the terminal. The ferries that used to docked at the old terminals on the isand and mainland were then phased out.)

The ferry service has been been pathetic since then and it is no wonder that Penang Port is losing money on the ferries, as more and more people are forced to use the bridge. In any case, the ferry service is an integral part of public transport – a public service – and it should be subsidised if it is true that it can barely break even.

The present management should quit if it cannot provide a reliable and efficient service. People are fed up with the poor service especially during rush hours, at night and on public holidays.

Now take this poll:

[yop_poll id=”4″]

And while we are at it, the federal government should stop the privatisation of Penang Port to Syed Mokhtar and review and conduct a thorough audit of the the cost and performance of the dredging to ensure accountability.

And instead of a tunnel there could be an additional ferry service from Bagan Ajam to Gurney Drive/Tanjong Tokong.

This is a letter from the Penang Chief Minister to the Acting Transport Minister:


15 November 2013

YB Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein
Pemangku Menteri Pengangkutan
Kementerian Pengangkutan Malaysia
Blok D5, Kompleks D
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan

YB Datuk Seri,


Dengan hormatnya saya ingin menarik perhatian YB Datuk Seri berhubung permasalahan serius ini yang dilaporkan oleh akhbar-akhbar tempatan pada 7 November 2013 yang lalu.

2. Memetik kenyataan yang dibuat oleh Pengarah Urusan PPSB, YBhg. Datuk Ahmad Ibnihajar kepada para pemberita pada 6 November 2013 di sebuah majlis rasmi PPSB, adanya rancangan PPSB untuk mengurangkan perkhidmatan feri di Pulau Pinang sebaik sahaja Jambatan Kedua Pulau Pinang beroperasi. Ini berikutan PPSB dijangka bakal kehilangan sasaran keuntungan sebanyak RM100 juta pada tahun 2015.

3. YBhg. Datuk Ahmad Ibnihajar juga menjelaskan bahawa kehilangan tersebut berpunca daripada kelewatan usaha untuk menswastakan PPSB yang menyebabkan beberapa projek utama terpaksa ditangguhkan sementara waktu termasuk kelewatan menjalankan projek pengorekan dasar laut yang bernilai RM353 juta yang menyebabkan kehilangan kontrak dengan Belgian Lhoist Group bernilai RM60 juta.

4. Dalam pada itu, penswastaan PPSB ini telah diumumkan oleh Kerajaan Persekutuan pada tahun 2010 di mana
YBhg. Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhari yang juga pemilik Pelabuhan Tanjung Pelepas dan Pelabuhan Johor telah memenangi pembidaan tersebut. Kegagalan menjalani projek pengorekan dasar laut dan pengurusan Pelabuhan Pulau Pinang yang semakin hilang arah-tuju tentang masa depan, menyebabkan PPSB sebenarnya mengalami kerugian. Ianya dapat dilihat kepada petunjuk di mana kredit cukai sebanyak RM32.2 juta diberi kepada PPSB. Inilah yang membolehkan PPSB mencatat keuntungan RM16.3 juta. Sekiranya tanpa cukai kredit tersebut, PPSB sebenarnya mengalami kerugian sebanyak RM15.9 juta pada tahun 2012.

5. Kerugian yang dialami oleh PPSB terkini serta kemungkinan kehilangan keuntungan sebanyak RM100 juta telah membuatkan PPSB bercadang untuk mengurangkan perkhidmatan feri di negeri ini sebaik sahaja Jambatan Kedua Pulau Pinang beroperasi.

Kerajaan Negeri membantah sepenuhnya pengurangan perkhidmatan feri kerana ianya akan mengakibatkan kesesakan lalu lintas apabila semua kenderaan tertumpu ke Jambatan Pulau Pinang atau Jambatan Kedua Pulau Pinang. Tambahan lagi, adanya pengguna lebih gemar menggunakan feri sebagai mod pengangkutan dari Pulau ke Seberang Jaya kerana faktor jarak, maka pengurangan perkhidmatan feri akan menyebabkan berlakunya kesesakan di kedua-dua jeti berikutan kekerapan feri beroperasi telah dikurangkan.

6. Sehubungan itu, kerjasama YB Datuk Seri adalah diharapkan agar dapat memberikan perhatian serius terhadap perkara ini dan diharapkan dapat memaklumkan status penswastaan PPSB kepada saya dengan secepat yang mungkin. Segala perhatian dan jasa baik YB Datuk Seri amatlah dihargai.

Sekian, terima kasih.

Yang ikhlas,

Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang

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21 Nov 2013 5.41pm

Ultimately to keep the ferry afloat, it means high rise development in Butterworth – urban renewal. The problem is that key properties like the port is privatized and can’t be moved by Penang govt without unbearable cost. The houses and shops are privately owned and small plots. People like to complain about lack of planning of Penang Island, the truth is Penang mainland also paying the price for years of bad planning..

20 Nov 2013 11.20am

Simon : Priority must be to solve traffic problem. Widening some road here and there won`t solve the traffic congestion. Make more highway interacting with each other. Make sure that housing development not done haphazardly as and where it like. It must complement with the road transportation to make easy to access in and out. But then I think it is easy said then done as most land are in private ownership.

20 Nov 2013 8.07am

Nothing will happens, unless Penang people go to the street and make petition demand for more and modern ferry services. And car ferry should reflect the real market price rather than using the old subsidies rates.

simon says
simon says
20 Nov 2013 7.55am

Once it was mentioned there would be fast-speed boats ferrying passeners (not vehicles) between mainland & island jetty — what happens ? Empty talk ?

Sometimes cannot totally blame present state gomen as the jurisdiction still under federal gomen (SPAD or Transport Ministry ?)

Gerakan under Mah (Gerakan M now ?) wants to revitalise the party in Penang better take up this matter. Solve ferry and traffic problem next GE can earn some deserving votes

What say you, Yang, tunglang ?

20 Nov 2013 9.56pm
Reply to  simon says

Where is the much waited Local Plan? Until Penangites see the real naked, physical Plan, I can’t say much except to express my distaste for speculative-greed-induced & botak-head ad-hoc executions of some developments going on at frenzy pace & some by-passing regulations affecting the environment & safety of residents. It just smell not right: uncoordinated, hap-hazard ‘cosmopolitan’ development & a free for all kind of developers’ fancies – SOHO, multi-million ringgit homes, hill homes built on 30+ degree slopes, dearth of green lungs, absence of well-planned traffic networks, one-way traffic turning into Formula One tracks, the more wider the road,… Read more »

19 Nov 2013 8.31pm

UMNO make money from TOLL … and kills the history of ferries for $$$.

rajraman. Demi God starting to leave a legacy of over development for the sake of money.Political Trader always think about how to make more $$$ for them and their cronies.

Thanks Anil for allowing me to blog again.May i know what’s really happen?

Plain Truth
Plain Truth
19 Nov 2013 5.20pm

These iconic ferries are part of the charm of Penang but their services are not going to improve when they are under the purview of Putrajaya. The proposed tunnel will proved to be a stillborn once the EIA report is out. Nothing to cry about since it is a stupid idea in the first place. Gurney and Tanjung Bungah are congested enough as they currently are. LGE doesn’t seem to realise that he will be judged by the impact of his policies on the quality of life of Penangites rather than the number of physical monuments he leaves behind. It… Read more »

19 Nov 2013 2.54pm

We need ferry, bridges and tunnel as well.
That will make Penang special. Ferry is part of transportation, our heritage and reliving of our memories of the old and beautiful, bridge a choice of connection between the mainland and the island while the tunnel is our future of a modern cosmopolitan Penang

Gerakan K
Gerakan K
19 Nov 2013 1.35pm

Conflict of interest with tunnels. Less ferries, more tunnels according to some people !!!

semuanya OK kot
semuanya OK kot
19 Nov 2013 1.23pm

Penang has been a hinderance to someone’s megalomania of his own fiefdom in Langkawi. Free port status and ferries (in part) are 2 items transfered to the latter. The electronic factories brought to Penang as “development” was illogical. It was unsustainable and depended on the virtual slavery of workers. Yet, despite all the corruption and unchecked development, Georgetown and Penang remain uncontested due to history. That is one reason for the attempts to manufacture alternate history. Lankawi may be famous only as the haunt of billionares ripping off the planet and their respective countries, their polital parasites and smugglers of… Read more »

19 Nov 2013 11.53am

Ferry rides
– create “holiday mood” to people who are on leisure-pace/ got time.
– reduce traffic crowding for those who can use shorter route from Mainland to Penang-town areas reduce crowding from bridge to coastal to town which waste fuel$, increase carbonprints, waste time.
– blends in better with Heritage-status of Penang, honestly.

Frank Lau
Frank Lau
19 Nov 2013 11.32am

I am a regular user of Penang ferry for the past 55 years. Like you said, the schedule/planning lately is questionable. It is time to appoint responsible and up right director/officers to take care of this asset to benefit the users.