Roughly 150 people ascended upon the Royal Shades pub eager to hear from investors about how they plan to resurrect the island ferry service to Portsmouth. Portsmouth-based Trayte Marine Ltd, who now own the ‘Pride of Hayling’ will submit their business plan at the end of the month to the Langstone Harbour Board.
Andrew Rothwell, who represented the company, stated that the new service would hope to take between 60 and 106 passengers per day with a return costing £5. Under operation from the new owners there will be three crossings an hour starting from 6am and finishing at 7pm,
this apparently could be increased to 9pm in the summer. Those in attendance however heard that the backers would still need external funding to get the boat on the water again.
Mr. Rothwell said;
‘We want to do this in a professional manner, we want to make it self-funding within three to five years. Hopefully numbers of passengers will increase if they know the service is going to be there when they turn up.’
Portsmouth City Council has said it is not willing to subsidise the ferry, however Hampshire County Council has said that they are open to discussions regarding ‘viable business plans’.
During the meeting, many member of the public made their opinions clear about how the ferry is a vital environmentally-friendly transport link that helps sustain tourism on Portsea/Portsmouth and Hayling Island.
Questions were raised about why the Langstone Harbour Board cannot dip into some of its reserves. But vice-chairwoman Councillor Jackie Branson said: ‘We can’t run ferries.
‘We are not allowed to. It’s not within our remit.’ She has also previously stated that the average annual cost for maintaining the pontoons was £32,000.
The current licence fee for a ferry service is about £19,500.
There were also statements made about how the ferry reduces the area’s carbon footprint and there were even calls to apply for EU funding.