Penang Ferry Service: 1894-present

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Before the Penang Bridge put the ferry in the shade, the ferry service was the only means of transporting people, bicycles and motor vehicles between the mainland and the island.

The iconic ferry service of Penang has a long history where it first started to take root in its most basic form sometime between 1893 and 1894. The inaugural regular service was initiated by a local entrepreneur, Quah Beng Kee.

The ferry service lost its prominence on Aug 3, 1985 when the Penang Bridge was officially opened by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his capacity as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The ferry service, the most cherished and well-known icon of Penang that used to be a bustling necessity of life, has in some strange ways, been reduced to a quaint tourist attraction.

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Today: Penang Rapid Ferry Service  –

Penang Rapid Ferry terminal

Rapid Ferry’s Pulau Undan ferry at the Butterworth ferry terminal in Penang, Malaysia

From WP entry at

Rapid Ferry is a shuttle ferry service within the State of PenangMalaysia, connecting the city of George Town on Penang Island and Butterworth on the mainland. This cross-strait transit has been operational since 1894, making it the oldest ferry service in Malaysia.[1] Its fleet of six ferries carries both passengers and automobiles across the Penang Strait daily; each roll-on/roll-off ferry could accommodate cars either on its lower deck or on both decks.[2]

The first cross-strait ferry service between Penang Island and the mainland began in 1894.[1] Originally a passenger-only service, the ferries were later refitted to carry automobiles in 1925. From 1924, the ferries were operated by the Penang Port Commission (formerly Penang Harbour Board), through its subsidiary, Penang Port Sdn Bhd.

In 2017, the Malaysian federal government began transferring the ferry service from Penang Port Sdn Bhd to Prasarana Malaysia, a government-owned entity which manages urban public transportation across Malaysia.[2][3][4] Following the handover, the ferry service has been rebranded as Rapid Ferry.


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