Island MP Andrew Turner (Con) secured an adjournment debate last night on the Isle of Wight Ferries. As with airlines, Wightlink (I’m not sure about Red Funnel?) appear to operate dynamic pricing (their strapline: “flexi-Pricing… matching demand with capacity”), upping the cost of ferry tickets to match demand. Residents’ multilink tickets (books of tickets bought in advance at a discounted price – currently, a return trip, off a book of 10 returns by car, costs me about £43 on the boat) don’t guarantee a sailing: residents’ places appear to be subject to quota).
The ferry companies are leveraged by private debt, which acts as a brake on investment and an inflator of ticket prices. In recent years, the number of sailings has reduced – making convenient travel difficult at times, more so when resident ticket quotas are applied to sailings – presumably in order to reduce operating costs.
The unreliability (from my experience) of rail connections provided between London and Portsmouth, along with reduced late night sailings, means that day trips to London require a very early evening departure from London in order to guarantee making a passenger boat. Start of the day London meetings require a very early start; important early start meetings require travel up to London the day before.
Both the cost and inconvenience of sailing (not only limited sailings: a one-way crossing of the Solent by car ferry takes about an hour when booking in, loading, crossing, and disembarkation are taken into account) factor into personal decisions I now make about leaving and returning to the Island in a detrimental way on many levels.