By Foo Ming Li
Penang’s Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal was constructed in the 1960s to provide an affordable mode of transportation for those who were frequently travelling between Penang Island and the mainland. Among the millions of passengers who have been using the service for decades are two of our former students of Han Chiang University College of Communication. They describe fond memories of travelling on those ferries, carrying not only passengers but countless stories.
Diploma in Broadcast Journalism graduate, Yow Soo Huei remarked her first ever ride on the ferry as a magical experience. Her family which resides in Kedah had driven their car to the mainland before boarding a ferry to Penang island.
“Being an eight-year-old kid, I never thought it would be possible for vehicles to be onboard a ferry until I had the chance to experience it myself,” she said as huge excitements settled on her face.
Fast forward to 2016 when she was studying at HCUC, ferry services were her favourite and affordable transportation as the ticket was only RM1.20 whereas the journey is approximately 30 minutes to reach the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal located in Butterworth.
The ferry ride always lets Yow enjoy the sound of the wind and the sea waves, while a serenity encapsulates her emotions which allows the hustle and bustle of being a college student to be temporarily forgotten.
“There are also many flights of stairs that need to be climbed along the walking journey which is inconvenient for elderly people and disabled people. Fortunately, the road was renovated and the Penang Sentral was built for passengers to relax themselves and have some food there as well,” she adds
The Broadcasting graduate, Tan Chu Yi who was originally from Pulau Langkawi, Kedah said that she uses the Penang ferry whenever she travels back to her hometown.
“In terms of the ticket price and the time needed to reach Pulau Langkawi, the direct ferry service is obviously more expensive but it saves a lot of time. It may take half a day to arrive at Pulau Langkawi if I am to get down at Butterworth ferry station as I have to board a bus to reach my home from the terminal”, she briefly explained the differences between the ferry stations located at Butterworth and Pulau Langkawi.
Sharing a memorable moment from her ferry rides, Tang recounts an incident when she was on the ferry amidst a severe thunderstorm. The ferry, says Tang, was wobbling because of the waves and forcing her to hold something solid to prevent any injuries.
“It was a tense moment because everyone was panicking and had no clue about what is supposed to happen during the thunderstorm. Thankfully, everything went well and I arrived in my hometown safely,” she said about the nerve-wrecking incident.
The Penang ferry service was initially going to be replaced by the pedestrian only waterbus beginning next year after the federal government meeting on December 13. However, the plan was dropped on December 17 as the Finance Minister will allocate RM30 million to Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) to maintain the ferry service in two installments next year.
Penangites from the island and mainland rejoice to hear the good news of the iconic ferry service is still operational because it is a part of Penang identity and it holds many memories for the passengers.