John Graney
Brading Town Councillor
The views expressed here are all my own

Ferry fares, a personal view.
The Island's lifeline ferry services are run by private companies who set their own tariffs. This is a thing that no individual councillor, nor any council, has any influence over. However sometimes it is better to get things off your chest so a little gentle rant may be in order.

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 monopoly ferry operator Caledonian Macbrayne. European rules about government monopolies appear to have been dealt with 'creatively'. For now 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 2017 outbound at 10:00 and return to the mainland at 18:00 will be £57.75. The same sized car crossing from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay at the same time will pay £28.00 for the return. Admittedly the first fare would be the same if there were four people in the car but the Scottish fare would be £46.30 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 £112.50 for the 'economy' fare and £124 for the Standard fare. The Scottish ferries charge the same fare (£28.00 for car and driver only - £46.30 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 holidays, weekends and the summer season.

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.

If anyone were listening I would propose that action be taken on the subject of ferries and ferry pricing. 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 in the UK, dating from before devolution, show that change is possible.



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