A major new scheme has been launched offering discounted cross-Solent travel for Island families and other residents on low incomes.
The initiative has been developed by the Isle of Wight Council with ferry companies Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel – via the Island’s Transport Infrastructure Board.
Each ferry operator has its own fixed-priced discount, covering foot passengers, cars and motorbikes, with details of prices available on their respective websites.
It means mainland travel costs will be made easier for work, health and other journeys for Islanders receiving housing benefit and/or local council tax support.
Council leader, Councillor Dave Stewart (Chale, Niton and Whitwell), said: “It’s absolutely vital that all residents on the Island have the ability to travel to the mainland when they need to, and we welcome these excellent steps that have been put in place by Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel to make this possible.
“We have been looking at a range of ways to support Islanders through the work of our Transport Infrastructure Board, and are delighted this has now borne fruit.
“This initiative also supports the work of our MP Bob Seely, who continues to highlight the unique challenges Islanders face with cross-Solent travel.”
Wightlink chief executive, Keith Greenfield, said: “We want to make sure low-income families have every opportunity to travel to the mainland for work, leisure and any other reason.
“We have worked closely with the Isle of Wight Council on this and are pleased that the discount travel scheme has now been launched.”
Red Funnel chief executive, Fran Collins, said: “We are delighted to offer fixed price fares to low income households on the Island.
“This is designed to make it easier and cheaper for eligible Islanders to visit the mainland.”
Hovertravel managing director, Neil Chapman, said: “We are passionate about supporting our local communities and we recognise that low income households struggle to pay for transport.
“Offering a fixed price discount to help families and other residents for journeys to the mainland is a positive step towards helping more people.”
Where do I sign up?
To qualify for the scheme, Island residents must be claiming housing benefit and/or local council tax support. It is estimated as many as 14,000 people are in this category.
Applicants should register with the ferry company they wish to travel with, via their website, and the council will automatically assess their eligibility.
If approved they will receive a dedicated customer account and ID code and the discount will then be applied automatically each time they book.
A minimum of seven working days in advance of travel will be needed for eligibility checks to be processed.
Those wishing to travel with Hovertravel can buy a discounted ticket at the Ryde terminal by showing a copy of their current council tax bill with evidence of local council tax support – or a copy of their current benefit notification letter together with their photo ID.