AT THE CONTROLS: Captain Wasim Mohammed shows Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner the control panel onboard the Carnival Runner fast ferry at the Port of Port of Spain yesterday, during the commissioning ceremony. —Photos: ISHMAEL SALANDY INSET: The Carnival Runner

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Jack: New ferries must be able to sustain themselves

WORKS AND Transport Minister Jack Warner says he plans to "aggressively market" the four new water taxis Government has purchased and make them financially viable.

Warner made the statement yesterday as he commissioned the four new water taxis— the Paria Bullet, Carnival Runner, Trini Flash and Calypso Sprinter at the Port of Port of Spain—which cost the Government $378 million.

The water taxis will be operational from Monday, Warner said. The four 41-metre high-speed passenger ferries are designed to carry 405 passengers each and were built by Australian ship builders, Austal. The previous water taxis are scheduled to be sold via a public auction, Warner said.

Warner said the price of tickets for the water taxis will be increased from $15 to $20 and the journey will be shortened to 45 minutes. The water taxis will operate seven days a week from San Fernando to Port of Spain, Warner said, and two additional routes will be opened in due course.

The water taxis will also operate from San Fernando to La Brea and Chaguanas to Port of Spain by next year. Areas designated for passengers to park and ride will also be created to coincide with these new routes, Warner said.

Warner also plans to have the water taxis sail to Tobago, Venezuela and Grenada, but the time frame for this plan to come to fruition is still in the works. He said the water taxis will also be rented out for excursions and parties.

"We plan to make these taxis viable and reduce the burden to the treasury," Warner said.

"This is the dawn of a new era where these taxis are concerned, you have a system whereby we shall not just simply depend on the State or the treasury to funds us, but we have to aggressively market these taxis so as to bring it in some fiscal reasoning and whereby they can sustain themselves."

The Carnival Runner was taken on a trial run along the coastline yesterday to commemorate the commissioning of the new water taxis. —JJ

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