At a meeting of the Isle of Wight Transport Infrastructure Board this morning (Wednesday 1 April), further alterations to cross-Solent ferry services were discussed.
It is clear that an almost total drop in demand of passenger traffic, coupled with reduced freight volumes means that many services are now under-utilised and not required. All operators are also acutely aware of the need to ensure adequate resilience in staffing levels to ensure that a lifeline service is maintained to the Island.
As a result of these factors both Red Funnel and Wightlink are making amendments to their timetables:
- Wightlink will be reducing the number of car ferry sailings on its Portsmouth to Fishbourne route and is suspending its Portsmouth to Ryde Fast Cat service. The revised car ferry schedule ensures that the demand from emergency services, freight operators, and other essential travellers will be met.
- Red Funnel is announcing a reduction in its Red Jet services outside peak travel times.
Full details of the timetable revisions will be announced by the operators.
Hovertravel will continue to provide its fast service, which not only carries foot passengers, but is also used by the Royal Mail and brings all the pharmaceuticals to the Island.
Board chairman, Christopher Garnett, said: “These measures have the full support of the board and will ensure essential, effective and robust cross-Solent ferry services can continue at this very difficult time. The board and operators are working closely together to ensure full resilience for the Island is maintained in all key areas.
“These are lifeline services for the Island, bringing in all our supplies and freight – including food and fuel – and providing key connectivity in areas such as mainland travel for hospital appointments, whether on foot or by ambulance.
“Each of the operators continues to put in enormous efforts to maintain these services in these unprecedented times, including the promotion of ‘essential travel only’.”
As part of the latest changes to services, all the operators are continuing to work together to maintain seamless services for passengers.
As part of this, in the event the hovercraft is unable to operate due to weather conditions, Southern Vectis will be arranging for its number 9 service to go via Wightlink’s Fishbourne terminal to provide a foot passenger connection from both Newport and Ryde.
The transport infrastructure board will continue to meet regularly to ensure that Islanders receive the best service possible through this very difficult time.