Ferry Tales

As a kid I lived on the “ulu” big half of negeri Pulau Pinang.  The good life was on the island.  Back then, the only means of getting across the harbor safely was via the fleet of ferries, operated by the PPC (Penang Port Commission).

When the “new” terminals of Pengkalan Raja Tun Uda (island side) and Pengkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (Butterworth side) were commissioned in 1959, there was a new series of standardized- configuration vessels.   Previously, the fleet comprised of a hodge-potch of boats of various shapes and sizes – that operated between the old Mitchell Pier (Butterworth) and Church Street Pier (island).

The new fleet had vessels named after islands around Malaysia.  I remember the earliest 4 were called Pulau Langkawi, Pulau Aman, Pulau Tioman and Pulau Pangkor.    Some uninformed folks thought that these ferries were bound for the destinations named on their sides !!

There was a fifth one — the Pulau Pinang — which was actually an older model, built in 1948, in Singapore.  It had only one funnel whereas the others had 2 each (one real, one dummy).  See the top left photo.

These ferries carried foot passengers on their upper decks, and cars, lorries, buses, motorbikes, bicycles on the lower decks.

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