08 Mar Transport Ministry considering plans to bring back iconic Penang ferry
Published by NewStraitsTime • 1/3/2023
Transport Minister Anthony Loke, however, said he could not immediately determine in what shape and form the iconic ferry would be used. – NSTP/MIKAIL ONG
GEORGE TOWN: The government has plans to bring back the iconic double-decker vehicular cum passenger ferries which were terminated in 2020.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke, however, said he could not immediately determine in what shape and form the iconic ferry would be used.
“Yes, there are plans to bring back the iconic ferry but we can’t decide on its usage for now, whether for tourism purposes or as a museum or Ro-Ro ferry. This will be discussed further with the Penang Port authority.
“I understand there are calls by various quarters to restore the iconic ferry back to its former usage as a vehicular cum passenger ferry.
“But we have purchased four new ferries for passengers and motorcycles which will be in use on Aug 1.
“I can’t just cancel the orders as it will be highly irresponsible of me to do so,” he told a joint press conference with Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow at the latter’s office in Komtar this afternoon.
Loke said,in order to bring back the iconic ferry, they would have to re-look at the operational challenges.
“This is because the ferry terminals, both on the island and mainland, have been refurbished to cater to the new ferries.
“So, even if we want to bring back the iconic ferry, it can’t be done immediately. We may need to build new terminals or even make changes to the existing ones.
“We need to consider the operational challenges before any decision is made,” he added.
Recently, Bagan member of parliament Lim Guan Eng had urged the present government to bring back the iconic Penang ferry.
A ferry service has linked Penang island with Butterworth in the mainland for over 126 years.
In 2020, the use of the iconic double-decker vehicular cum passenger ferries was stopped after five decades and replaced with a speedboat ferry service for passengers.
One of the older ferries is currently being used for bicycles and motorcycles.
Meanwhile, on the Bayan Lepas light rail transit (LRT) project, Loke said he had been supportive of the project since 2019, where conditional approval was granted when he was the then transport minister.
“However, there are other things we need to look into such as the funding model and such,” he said.
He also praised the Penang government’s efforts in encouraging public transportation usage in the state.