New Lapu-Lapu ferry service targets 100K MEZ 1 workers
Tardiness will become a thing of the past for employees at the Mactan Economic Zone 1 (Mez 1) and nearby companies as well as airline passengers based in Cebu City and in southern Metro Cebu.
Commuters traveling to the vicinity of the Mactan Cebu International Airport and Mactan Economic Zone 1 now have an alternative mode of transportation that cuts travel time to only 30 to 40 minutes with the new sea transport service offered by Topline Express.
Eugene Erik Lim, chief executive officer and president of Topline Express, said they started the soft launch of the Cebu City Pier 3 to the Mactan wharf across Mactan Economic Zone 1 last December 3.
According to Lim, the two ferries would operate on an hourly basis from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.
They will have a present capacity of over 200 passengers.
However, he said that they were still getting authority from the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to have their capacity upgraded to 325.
Brigitte Lim Mueller, Topline Express vice president for operations, said she herself had experienced the long travel time from Cebu City going to Lapu-Lapu City and saw that there was a need for an alternative and faster way of transport.
“It took me three hours to get there,” Mueller recalled the time she spent on the road from their family residence in Banawa to Lapu-Lapu City.
Lim said that their family discussed this existing need and decided to invest in an alternative transport system to help decongest traffic in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.
It would also provide commuters, especially those who spend more than two hours on the road, a choice of transport in the wake of worsening traffic condition in Metro Cebu.
“We’re happy that our (family) vision is realized,” said Mueller, adding that their plans would also include further expanding their service to the southern part as well as northern part of Metro Cebu.
The two vessels offer a total of 32 daily trips during the 16 hours of vessel operations.
The company invested more than $1 million for each fully refurbished vessel they acquired from Singapore.
To enable commuters to experience traveling via their vessels, Topline charges only P15, including the terminal fee, for a one-way trip until December 31, 2018.
By January the company will be charging the regular fare rate of P25 for a one-way trip; P22 for students and P20 for senior citizens.
According to Lim, they see a bright future for the company considering that in MEZ 1 alone there are between 60,000 to 100,000 workers, most of them residing either in Cebu City and southern Metro Cebu as well as northern Metro Cebu.
Aside from the MEZ 1 workers, Lim said their target market also included local commuters living in Lapu-Lapu City but working in Cebu and tourists who would come to Cebu via the Mactan Cebu International Airport.
He disclosed that they had already acquired additional vessels, which they planned to deploy to more routes.
Lim also assured the riding public that they had complied with the standards set by the Marina as far as safety was concerned.
At the Cebu port, the company has their own terminal space but their planned terminal at the Mactan wharf would soon be built.
They also have a shuttle service that would bring passengers from the wharf to the Island Central Market and vice-versa.
There are also ongoing negotiations with MEZ 1 and the Mactan Cebu International Airport for a bus service from the wharf to the two areas for the convenience of the passengers.
In a press statement, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza welcomed the start of Topline Express sea transport service, noting that she expected the traffic to worsen due to the upcoming activities for Christmas and New Year.
“I am happy that they are now sailing from ICM to Pier 3 and vice-versa to help lessen the traffic situation in Lapu-Lapu,” the mayor said.
She also noted that the company was offering hassle-free travel — free from traffic — at affordable fare.
The company charges P15 promotional fare until December 31, 2018.
By January next year, they will be charging the regular fare rate of P25 for a one-way trip; P22 for student fare and P20 fare for senior citizens.
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