Wightlink regrets it will suspend its Portsmouth Harbour-Ryde Pier Head FastCat foot passenger route from the last sailing on Monday 6 April 2020 until normal services can be restored, because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Two hourly service
Wightlink will also be reducing its Portsmouth-Fishbourne car ferry sailings to a two-hourly service on one of its largest ships from 06:00 on Tuesday 7 April 2020.
These changes are being made because very few people need to cross the Solent at this time. They also further minimise the dangers of COVID-19 spreading to Wightlink staff and into the community.
Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says:
“We are sorry to suspend our FastCat route and reduce sailings between Portsmouth and Fishbourne, however we will still be able to transport all essential travellers and supplies to the Isle of Wight using one of our largest ships.”
Use tickets on Red Funnel and Hovertravel
Under the leadership of Isle of Wight Council during the COVID-19 crisis, all cross-Solent operators are working together to keep the Island connected.
Wightlink’s foot passenger tickets will be accepted on Red Funnel and Hovertravel. This includes rail tickets and season tickets.
Red Funnel skeleton service
Red Funnel Ferries has today announced it will be making further changes to its Red Jet service, as it works to ensure it continues to offer a lifeline service, particularly for key workers travelling to and from the Isle of Wight.
Red Funnel has been working closely with local NHS services to optimise a hi-speed sailing schedule that coordinates with NHS workers’ shift patterns as much as possible. Following these talks and taking into account greatly reduced customer demand, the new schedule will feature four early morning and five evening sailings. The schedule will operate as follows.
Morning: 05:45, 06:45, 07:45 08:45
Evening: 16:45, 17:45, 18:45, 19:45, 20:45
From West Cowes:
Morning: 06:15, 07:15, 08:15, 09:15
Evening: 17:15, 18:15, 19:15, 20:15, 21:15
The new schedule will come into effect on Saturday 4th April.
Decrease in demand
The service reduction comes as customer demand for Red Funnel’s Red Jet service decreases as a result of Covid-19 with the public heeding the government’s guidance on non-essential travel.
The revised timetable mirrors recent customer travel patterns and foot passenger numbers, while ensuring there are hi-speed sailings available that align with the majority of key worker shifts.
Foot passengers will continue to be able to travel on Red Funnel’s vehicle ferry service, which will continue to operate to its advertised schedule throughout the day.
Collins: “Revised timetable is more appropriate”
Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel, said:
“We have seen a significant decline in foot passengers using our Red Jet service in recent weeks due to the government’s guidance regarding non-essential travel.
“Whilst we are pleased the public is taking this advice seriously and only travelling if absolutely necessary, it subsequently means we are seeing very reduced passenger numbers on all sailings, particularly on our off-peak services where we have sailings operating with very few or even no customers at all.
“Given the current government guidance and very low passengers numbers, the revised timetable is more appropriate and the crossing times will still enable the majority of those still travelling with us to continue to use the Red Jet service, especially NHS and key workers. We are also continuing to operate our vehicle ferry services that foot passengers can use.”
Keep up to date with the latest developments as to how Red Funnel is responding to Covid-19 here: on the Website.
Seely: We do need skeleton ferry service for food and medical supplies
Conservative Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, said,
“The ferry companies have now downsized to a skeleton service due to a very significant drop in demand for their services.
“I’ve had questions from some Islanders asking why visitors are still coming to the Island. Apart from a few very isolated cases, they are not.
“We do however need a skeleton ferry service to ensure food and medical supplies can get to the Island.
“We also need to make sure that key workers can come here to support the NHS and other vital services that keep people alive and safe.”
Government Covid-19 guidance: Stay alert and stay safe
Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently (video tips).
It is recommended that you maintain at least a two metre gap (about 6.5ft) from people who are not from your household.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service that can tell if you need medical help and advise you what to do.