John Graney Online.

Published by John Graney, Brading Town Councillor.
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Letter to the Editor of the Isle of Wight County Press
6 April 2021.


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.

For example, the crossing from Wemyss Bay in Ayrshire to Rothesay on the Island of Bute. I choose this one 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 economy places available £73 if not. A similar vehicle crossing from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay at the same time will pay £30.80 for the return. If there were three passengers the Isle of Wight fare would be the same. The Scottish fare would be £56.20. Still cheaper.

However the real difference comes if our visitor stays for a fortnight. The fare rises to £155 for the 'economy' fare and £171 for the Standard fare. (A de-facto ‘tourist tax’ which does not benefit the island.) 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.

The Scottish fares are determined under a scheme called "Road Equivalent Tariff" which is explained on the Transport for Scotland website.

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 from elsewhere show that change is possible.

John Graney