The Sandbanks Ferry Company, which is facing a public inquiry into its proposal to increase toll prices, has said that it will finish operating at 9 pm on a daily basis due to the anticipation of low passenger numbers, throughout the four week period.
During the first lockdown it was taken out of service from Tuesday 17th April until Tuesday 16th June 2020. The ferry company said at the time, that the significant reduction in ferry passenger numbers had made the service economically and environmentally unviable.
This time, from Thursday 5th November to Wednesday 2nd December 2020, the ferry will continue to operate services every 20 minutes starting at 7 am from Sandbanks, however the final daily ferry crossing during the lockdown period will depart at 9 pm from Sandbanks. The last ferry usually departs Studland at 11.10 pm.
The ferry company faces stinging criticism
This comes as the ferry company faces stinging criticism from parish councils in Purbeck whose objections to its plans to increase prices in line with inflation, has triggered a public inquiry.
Studland and Langton Matravers Parish Councils are expected to make their own objections to the inquiry and Worth Matravers Parish Council says it will support the residents of Studland and their parish council, who are most affected by a toll increase.
It’s understood that Swanage Town Council, Corfe Castle Parish Council, Dorset Council; and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council are planning to put forward an alternative pricing proposal to the inquiry, which starts at 9.30 am on Monday 16th November 2020.
“Local residents will still rely on the ferry”
With the imminent public inquiry focussing a spotlight on the value of its service, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, Mike Kean, said:
“We know that local residents will still rely on the ferry to travel to work, university or local hospitals during lockdown, and so we are pleased to be able to make a commitment to them during this challenging second lockdown.
“The ferry is also a great way for local residents to visit the beautiful landscapes we enjoy in Studland, Swanage and Sandbanks for their daily exercise, and hope they will take advantage of this during this time.”
To enable the ferry to continue to operate it has introduced new guidelines to comply with the current restrictions for public transport.
- Asking passengers to pay by card if they can. Cash is accepted if they have no alternative
- means of payment
- All cyclists and foot passengers, aged 11 and over, must wear face coverings while queuing and on board, completely covering the nose and mouth, unless a medical exemption is in place
- Motorcyclists should keep helmets on during queuing and for the duration of the journey
- Cyclists and foot passengers must remain in the marked-out social distancing boxes while on board, unless guided otherwise by staff
- Vehicle passengers should remain in their vehicle while on board the ferry, with windows closed. If necessary, the driver’s side windows may be lowered for ventilation
- Convertible vehicles must travel with roofs up and windows closed, with driver’s side window ventilation if required
- Details of the ferry timetable can be found on the ferry website
- The Sandbanks Ferry Inquiry will be held virtually on Microsoft Teams from 9.30 am on Monday 16th November 2020. Any member of the public is allowed to attend and if they wish to join the meeting, they should contact ETC@planninginspectorate.gov.uk quoting the DPI reference number (DPI/G1250/20/9) and giving their contact details. Alternatively, phone 0303 444 5572.