Marina 7 to review ‘high’ Bantayan fare rates

Bantayan Island
Bantayan IslandFile Photo

THE Maritime Industry Authority in Central Visayas (Marina 7) plans to collaborate with the local government units (LGUs) within Bantayan Island and the shipping companies to reassess the current freight and passenger fare rates.

In an interview on the sidelines of the Philippine Coastwise Shipping Association General Membership Meeting at Fili Hotel-Nustar Cebu on Friday, April 19, 2024, Marina 7 Director Annabell Lagas addressed concerns raised with their agency and to the Office of the Governor regarding the reportedly high fare rates for sea travel between mainland Cebu to Bantayan Island via the Hagnaya-Santa Fe route, connecting the towns of San Remigio and Santa Fe.

She said that Gov. Gwen Garcia urged Marina 7 to review the existing fare rates, during their meeting, alongside the mayors of Bantayan, Madridejos and Sta. Fe, as well as representatives from shipping firms and other stakeholders on Thursday, April 18.

“We do not know yet the outcome of the review; it might be ma-reduce ang pletehan (that the fare might be reduced) or if there is a possibility nga ma-increase pa (that it might increase further), considering ang (the) inflation rate and expenses ng ating shipping (of our shipping lines),” Lagas said.

During their meeting with Garcia on Thursday, the town mayors and representatives aired out the sentiment of the residents of the island about high fare rates.

According to a report by the Cebu Provincial Government’s Public Information Office (PIO), the current one-way fare per passenger ranges from P300 to P359.

Lagas said the review will take a month before the result can be released.

She added that Marina 7 does not have specific guidelines for determining fare rates, as it is the shipping firms that propose fare prices. It is also the shipping companies that will propose and decide on the schedule of sea trips, the number of vessels to deploy and the frequency of trips in a single day.

“Sila kasi ang nagko-conduct ng market study. If there is demand, alam nila na kailangan nang maraming barko (at) maraming (trip) frequency in a day,” Lagas said.

(They are the ones conducting the market study. If there is demand, they know that more ships and more trips are needed in a day.)

Lagas said they started their initial study on the request on Friday.

In reviewing the existing fare rates, Lagas said other factors have to be considered aside from the number of hours of travel. These include the ship’s engine, vessel’s maintenance, its horsepower and the fuel consumption of the vessel per liter per trip in a given distance.

She added that if there is a need to lower the freight and passenger rates, based on the result of their review, they will appeal to the shipping companies to do so.

There are two major shipping lines, Super Shuttle and Island Shipping, that operate between Hagnaya and Santa Fe, and vice versa.

A report from Capitol’s PIO said Paul Rodriguez, chief executive officer (CEO) of Super Shuttle operator Asian Marine Transport Corp., told Garcia during the Thursday meeting that while fuel prices and labor costs are important factors in determining fare rates, the frequency of voyages also plays a significant role.

He said that regardless of passenger occupancy, scheduled trips must be operated.

The Hagnaya-Santa Fe route boasts the highest frequency of scheduled trips among similar sea routes, with 18 trips in a single day, regardless of passenger volume.

Alex Tan, CEO of Island Shipping Company also said that investment in bigger ships for the sea route is another factor.

Bantayan Island has been a major tourist spot in northern Cebu, garnering thousands of domestic and foreign travelers annually. / EHP


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