GEORGE TOWN, Jan 1 ― The Penang Port Commission (PPC) predicts as many as 10,000 passengers will ride on its new fast boats across the Penang channel on its first day of operations today.
About 2,000 passengers had been recorded boarding the boats in the first four-and-a-half hours since the fleet rolled out, Penang Port Commission chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng said.
“Since 6.30am to 10am, the fast boats have already made 16 trips across the channel and transported about 2,000 passengers during that time.
“We expect to see more passengers by noon or in the afternoon,” he said.
He said each boat can accommodate 200 passengers, but noted that there were usually smaller crowds early in the morning on a public holiday, like today.
Tan also said a van will be on standby to transport senior citizens, the disabled and pregnant women from the Sultan Abdul Halim Terminal to Penang Sentral on Butterworth, in response to complaints from commuters about the steep flight of stairs connecting the two buildings.
He said the terminal will be upgraded to connect directly to Penang Sentral and will be enclosed, with air-conditioning and to have facilities for the disabled, including elevators and escalators within the next 18 months.
He added that the Tun Raja Uda Terminal in George Town on the island will also be upgraded to accommodate new water buses and vehicle transporters, and fully equipped with disabled-friendly facilities.
Tan said PPC will preserve the iconic ferries in response to allegations that they will be destroyed now that they are discontinued from service,.
“For now, Pulau Angsa is still in operation to ferry motorcycles and bicycles during this 18-month interim period before the new vehicle transporters arrive,” he said, referring to the sole ferry being retained for vehicular transport.
He said once the new transporters arrived, Pulau Angsa will also be converted for other uses.
“We are still considering using the old ferries as a floating restaurant, a floating museum or even as a tourist cruise ferry,” he said.
He said PPC is open to receive any feedback and proposals from the public on what they can do with the old ferries.
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