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14 October 2014, 15:11
A special taskforce has been announced by the Department for Transport, to look into ferry services between the South Coast and Isle of Wight.
It's after the Island's MP Andrew Turner told a House of Commons debate last night (Monday 13 October) that passengers pay too much and there aren't enough crossings.
He argued that the sales of Red Funnel and Wightlink have led to price rises for customers.
Department for Transport minister John Hayes has said he will host a review into cross-Solent services.
Wightlink Chief Operating Officer John Burrows said:
"Wightlink has always sought to offer its customers fair prices for its crossings. Regular travellers can buy season tickets and Islanders can also buy Multilink Passes that lock in prices. There are places for Multilink pass holders on all sailings, even at the busiest times during festivals. That means customers who book early and can be flexible with their chosen sailings will secure the best fares.
"In a recent survey, Wightlink asked Multilink Pass holders what they thought of the discount scheme. Some suggested amendments which are being investigated but the vast majority of respondents said they were satisfied. In response to this feedback, Wightlink is looking at how it can further improve the scheme for customers in future.
"Like other Isle of Wight ferry operators, Wightlink receives no public subsidy. However, it runs more than 48,000 sailings a year on its three routes, a third of them are loss-making.
"Wightlink's ownership structure does not influence the price of fares. Its current owners have invested £70million over the last six years on five new boats and significant shoreside improvements, without taking a penny from Wightlink as profit."
Kevin George, CEO of Red Funnel, commented:
"I am grateful to Andrew Turner for the opportunity to meet him prior to the House of Commons debate so that he could be appraised of the actions and investments Red Funnel is taking to develop our services and give even better value for money, especially for Island residents.
"It is encouraging to see our customer satisfaction ratings at record levels together with a growing market share, such that over the summer period Southampton – East Cowes became the most popular way to cross the Solent with a vehicle.
"However I acknowledge the need for an integrated transport policy for the Island and as a consequence Red Funnel is supportive of the Task Force announced by the Transport Minster during the debate last night."