GEORGE TOWN, Dec 1 ― Penang has seen an increase in the number of passengers taking the speedboats that replaced the iconic but old ferries that plied the Penang Channel since January this year.

State infrastructure and transport committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari told the Penang legislative assembly today that 357,898 speedboat passengers were recorded between January and October this year.

Zairil said the monthly records on the riderships for the speedboats was encouraging.

“We believe the service received good response from passengers as it is more comfortable, safe and faster compared to the old ferries,” he replied to Permatang Pasir assemblyman from Amanah Muhammad Faiz Fadzil.

Zairil also said that the state has also allocated subsidies to pay for the speedboat fees for all Malaysian passengers since July 1 which also encouraged an increase in ridership.

When asked if the state can maintain one of the iconic ferries for on-foot passengers, Zairil said the state had requested the Penang Port Commission (PPC) to do this too.

“We were informed that the costs of the ferry maintenance was too high so its operations could not be continued,” he said.

“The state government does not agree with the ferry service being ended entirely but we have to accept this as the ferry service is under PPC,” he said.

Penang’s iconic ferry services ceased operations on December 31 last year and was replaced by the speedboats on January 1.