Penang Fast Ferry from Butterworth Penang Sentral to Penang Island Swettenham Pier by Ferry

Penang Fast Ferry from Butterworth Penang Sentral Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (PSAH) to Penang Island Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT)

The Penang Fast Ferry is the main transport link between Butterworth Penang Sentral and Georgetown on Penang Island, operating as an interim ferry service from 1 January 2021 to mid-2022 with leased services from Langkawi Ferry Services while the Penang Ferry service transitions into a water bus and vehicle transporter service.

Coming in from the KTM Komuter Northern Sector 2963dn from Padang Besar, I had about half an hour to board the 7pm Penang Fast Ferry to Penang Island Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT). Making this connection was essential as missing it would result in a 90 minute wait as the next and last ferry would be at 8.30pm – not a very fast Fast Ferry.

Temporary Walkway to Penang Sentral

After 2 years of not visiting Penang Sentral, I was looking forward to some improvements with the connection with Butterworth Railway Station.

But alas, the temporary walkway to Penang Sentral is still in use. I wonder if this temporary walkway is permanent.

Crossing the road around the bus bays to Penang Sentral terminal building.

Penang Sentral

An elevator ride up to the back of the ticketing counter area, and I’m in Penang Sentral once again, just as a walkthrough to Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (PSAH).

The exit to Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (PSAH) is after KFC.

Heading up a short flight of stairs to the Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (PSAH) connection.

The walkway between Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (PSAH) and Butterworth Railway Station has still not been reinstated yet, even though it looks very ready.

Butterworth Penang Sentral Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (PSAH)

Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (PSAH) still looks the same as how I remembered it to be.

The Penang Fast Ferry is no longer operated by Rapid Penang, with Penang Port taking back operations.

Penang Fast Ferry tickets cost RM1.20 for foreigners.

For Malaysians, Penang Fast Ferry tickets have been free since 1 July 2021, and will be extended to end 2022 by producing a MyKad, MyKid, or MyTentera.

Here’s my foreigner paid ticket for the Penang Fast Ferry. The ticketing system remains the same under Penang Port.

Scan the QR code of the ticket at the ticket gates to enter the waiting area.

Seats are available while waiting for the Penang Fast Ferry.

The old boarding area mixed with vehicles is now hoarded up, affecting ventilation as the sea breeze cannot enter the waiting area any more. Standing fans are available to provide some breeze.

The boarding gate is now at the side leading to a set of stairs.

Boarding

At 6.45pm, 15 minutes before departure, the gates opened for passengers to board the 7pm Penang Fast Ferry, after the arriving passengers had cleared out.

The stairs lead to the ground level where vehicles used to queue up.

Heading on to the boarding berth.

The car ramp has been modified to install a new floating pontoon to board the Penang Fast Ferry.

Langkawi Ferry Services Kenangan 6

Langkawi Ferry Services Kenangan 6 would be ferrying me (ha.) from Butterworth Penang Sentral Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (PSAH) to Penang Island Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT).

This outsourcing is a temporary measure until the Penang Ferry service transitions into a water bus and vehicle transporter service.

Boarding the Kenangan 6 is easy with a gangway bridging the gap between the floating pontoon and the ferry.

The interior of the Kenangan 6. Seats are laid out in a 5+5 configuration.

The view of the Kenangan 6 from my seat.

The legroom on board the Kenangan 6.

The views out of Kenangan 6 are left to be desired with a purple tint sticker pasted on all windows.

A safety video is played on loop in a playlist.

The TV screen also advertises the Rapid Penang FERI Bus Service from Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) to Pengkalan Raja Tun Uda (Terminal Jetty).

The Penang Fast Ferry departed right on time at 7pm.

The Roro Jaya Satu which operates for bicycles and motorcycles is berthed beside, also departing at 7pm.

My first impression of the Penang Fast Ferry was, wow this is really fast.

Yes, it feels like a normal ferry in today’s terms, but way faster than the old Penang Ferry that I’ve took last time.

The skyline of Penang Island is just ahead.

Heading on to Penang Island at speed.

Crossing with the Kenangan 2 on the opposing direction, although this view means that the ferries are not following Rule 14 of the Rules of the Road. Hmm.

Approaching Penang Island Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) with a strange sight.

The Aegean Paradise is berthed at Penang Island Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT).

She used to be anchored off Singapore waters as a casino ship, and is now in Penang. Ironically, this is my first time seeing this once-Singapore-based ship up close.

The Taipan is also berthed at Penang Island Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT). The Taipan is an all-suite boutique cruise ship of Star Cruises.

Penang Island Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT)

Berthing at the floating pontoon of Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT).

The Penang Fast Ferry ride from Butterworth Penang Sentral Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim (PSAH) to Penang Island Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) took only 10 minutes.

Disembarking from the Kenangan 6.

A gangway bridges the gap between the ferry and floating pontoon.

Heading up the floating pontoon to Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) building.

A “Welcome to Penang” sign on the Penang Port Commission Building welcomes passengers to Penang Island.

Looking back at Kenangan 6.

The path leads directly to a road out to Penang Island.

Looking back at the Penang Fast Ferry floating pontoon with the 2 cruise ships in the background.

The Roro Jaya Satu is still making her way to Penang Island Pengkalan Raja Tun Uda with bicycles and motorcycles.

Heading out of Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT).

The façade of Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) in the evening.

Here, I continued on to the bus stop to catch the connecting Rapid Penang FERI Bus Service from Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) to Terminal Jetty.

Conclusion

Overall, the Penang Fast Ferry offers a fast ride across from Butterworth to Penang Island, taking around half the time as needed on the old ferry. However, this fast ride is conflicted by the rather poor frequency.

At the time of my visit in December 2021, the Penang Fast Ferry frequency was mainly hourly to bi-hourly at most times of the day, which is very infrequent considering that the ferry is the only direct link between Georgetown and Penang Sentral.

If I had missed this 7pm ferry, I would have to wait till 8.30pm for the next ferry crossing.

Now, frequency has “improved” to be half-hourly at most times of the day, but this is still slower than the old Penang Port Penang Ferry which ran up to “4 feri” during peak hours, though the departure time is sketchy.

To work with the new, improved speed of harbour crossing, the Penang Fast Ferry should operate at least at 20-minute frequencies with 2 ferries, or 15-minute frequencies with 3 ferries. Otherwise, the new faster travel speed is cancelled out with plenty of resting time at the ports, making the “improvements” redundant or even backward.

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