John Graney Online.

Published by John Graney, Brading Town Councillor.
The views expressed here are all my own.
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A personal view on Ferry fares and Timetables

I am not sure if the Solent really is the most expensive ferry crossing in the world. What I do know is that in other places these things are handled very differently. Take Scotland for instance. The Scottish Government owns the ferry operator Caledonian Macbrayne. Calmac, as it is known, runs almost all of the ferries between the Scottish islands and the mainland.

Take, for example, the crossing from Wemyss Bay in Ayrshire to Rothesay on the Island of Bute. I choose this example because it is a mainland to island trip rather than an inter island one. It has a crossing time of 35 minutes roughly equivalent to Yarmouth to Lymington.

A return fare for a car and driver from Lymington to Yarmouth on a week-day in May 2021 outbound at 11:00 and return to the mainland at 17:00 will be 67 if there are economay places available 73 if not. The same sized car crossing from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay at the same time will pay 30.80 for the return. Admittedly the Isle of Wight fare would be the same if there were four people in the car but the Scottish fare would be 56.20 with four people on-board, still cheaper. The Isle of Wight fare can be less at other times of the day but not by much.

However the real difference comes if our visitor to the Island stays for a fortnight. The fare rises to 155 for the 'economy' fare and 171 for the Standard fare. The Scottish ferries charge the same fare (30.80 for car and driver only and 56.20 for a car with 4 people in it) whatever time of the day or night and however long you stay. The tariff is valid for the whole period of the timetable including bank holidays, weekends and the summer season. Even an economy day return on Wightbay on May bank holiday is 88.

The fares are determined under a scheme called "Road Equivalent Tariff" Which is based on a fixed element (to ensure services remain sustainable and to cover fixed costs such as maintaining harbour infrastructure and vessels) and a rate per mile.

The ferries to the island are NOT pleasure cruises. They are essential to this community for travel and the supply of the essentials of life. The fares charged are bound to have an influence on the Island's economy. Examples of practices elsewhwere, (both in the UK and throughout the world) which date from before devolution, and before BREXIT, show that change is possible