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Travel & Holiday

New river taxi services launched

Commuters will be able to pay for new river taxis services with their own ez-link cards.
January 2, 2013
By: Janice Tai
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New river taxi services launched A river taxi operated by the Singapore River Explorer passing by the Merlion yesterday. Commuters will be able to use their ez-link cards to pay for the service from next month. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING

COMMUTERS emerging from MRT stations near the Singapore River will soon be able to hop onto one of the new river taxis docked nearby.

They can use their ez-link cards to pay for the service, which was launched yesterday by Singapore River Explorer, a joint venture by Global Yellow Pages and travel company Leisure Empire.

The aim is to introduce a seamless mode of transport for people who live and work in the area.

Passengers will be able to pay for the boat rides using ez-link cards from next month. The new operator has stationed four out of its 13 landing points next to MRT stations so that commuters can transit to other parts of the city easily.

It is also in talks with partners about acquiring car parking spaces in order to start a park-and-ride package. Drivers who find navigating the congested city roads a hassle could opt to leave their cars in the Havelock area before taking a river taxi to their destinations.

Singapore River Explorer and Singapore River Cruise won the right to run the river taxi service last July after the Urban Redevelopment Authority issued a tender.

Both launched their taxi services yesterday. The authority wanted to introduce more frequent and affordable water taxis that would be used not only by tourists but also by commuters.

The companies will cover two shuttle service routes running from Jiak Kim Street in River Valley to the Marina Barrage. Their water taxis will operate every day between 7am and 10pm, with intervals of no longer than 10 minutes during peak hours. The fare is a flat rate of $3 per one-way trip.

An express service, where people can be picked up and dropped off at designated spots, will cost $4. Commuters will also be able to book rides in advance.

Water taxi rides, run by Singapore River Cruise and Singapore Ducktours in the past, used to be more expensive - $4 to $16 - and used mostly by tourists.

"We are confident that this service will be successful because $3 is very affordable for the masses," said Mr Terence Ng, operations director of Singapore River Explorer. It will be wooing residents of riverside condominiums and executives working in the Central Business District with a $150 season pass that offers them unlimited rides for a month.

The jury is out on whether Singaporeans will use these services. Some find boarding a boat in work attire inconvenient; others think the commute will take too long. The trip from Jiak Kim Street in River Valley to the Marina Barrage takes about 25 mins.

When The Straits Times visited the area yesterday, only a handful of passengers were Singaporeans.

Finance executive Amzah Abdul Rahim took the boat with his family from Liang Court to Raffles Place.

"Three dollars is reasonable and it's something new for the children," said the 26-year-old, who works at One Raffles Quay. "For myself, I usually drive to work but this is a viable alternative if the roads are jammed."

jantai@sph.com.sg

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