GEORGE TOWN, Nov 14 — The state government will invite proposals to introduce water transport services in the state.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state government mooted the idea of introducing water taxies since the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) was completed.
“Until now, no action was taken so I have directed my officer not to wait any further, maybe we can do a separate request for proposal to look at water transport services,” he told reporters outside the state legislative assembly.
He said Rapid Ferry Sdn Bhd, which took over the Penang ferry services, may also lead the effort in introducing an integrated water transport system since the ferry services are the main water transport activity in the state.
“So far, water transport has been given low priority but we want to look at new connectivity points between the mainland and the island,” he said.
Chow said the water taxies could connect parts of the island such as Tanjung Tokong, George Town, Jelutong, Bayan Baru and Bayan Baru.
“On the mainland side, we can look at connectivity with Butterworth, Prai, Bukit Tambun, Batu Kawan and Nibong Tebal,” he said.
Chow also said the ferry services is running at a loss as its revenue was not enough to cover the operations costs, which was why Penang Port Sdn Bhd wanted to separate the ferry services from its operations.
“Now that Prasarana has taken over the ferry services, we will wait for them to come up with an overall plan to improve the ferry services,” he said.
Earlier, when replying to an oral question in the legislative assembly, Chow said Rapid Ferry Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Prasarana Malaysia under the Finance Ministry, took over the ferry services on May 1 this year.
He said there are six ferries in total, with five plying the Butterworth- George Town route daily.
“In the five months of operations under Rapid Ferry, the ferry operational costs was RM1.749 million each month,” he said.
However, the total revenue collected from passengers between May and September this year amounted to about RM2.687 million, he said.
He said the costs did not include docking costs by Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB).
Currently, Chow said the ferries make 54 trips per day on weekdays and 50 trips on weekends and public holidays.
He said the state government will meet with Rapid Ferry to discuss ways to optimise and improve the ferry services.
“We will look at a proposal to use vessel passengers that are ferries specifically only for pedestrians based on the ferry development plan,” he said.
There are also plans to look at potential routes for the proposed water taxi services, he added.