With an expected increase in the number of vehicles wanting to use the Sandbanks Ferry, it’s just been announced that it will start operating on Wednesday 17th June 2020.
However, the company says it will just be for motorcycles and vehicles and not foot passengers or cyclists, in order to “support social distancing while queuing for the ferry”.
Following a difficult twelve months, which has seen the ferry not operating for a significant amount of time due to mechanical and technical reasons, the ferry was suspended from service last April due to a dramatic reduction in passenger numbers because of government coronavirus travel restrictions.
With further bad luck, the ferry also sustained significant damage to its hull while out of service, when a large piece of concrete unexpectedly detached from the fixed jetty and fell into the ferry, while moored in Poole Harbour.
Three crossings per hour in each direction as usual
The company now says that on Wednesday 17th June 2020, the service is planned to begin at 7 am from Sandbanks, with three crossings per hour in each direction as usual until 11.10 pm from Studland.
The resumption of operation is in line with the UK Government’s announcement that shops and businesses can begin reopening from Monday 15th June, as the company believes that passenger numbers will increase to economically and environmentally viable levels in order for the ferry to operate.
Only be accepting motorised vehicles
As with all businesses, the company says it is adapting its way of working in order to create a safe environment for its employees. It says that all staff will have personal protective equipment (PPE) and they have been trained on how to effectively use it and maintain social distancing while working. The new restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus also means that the company will only be accepting motorised vehicles until further notice.
In a statement the company said:
“All drivers & passengers will be asked to remain inside their vehicles and motorcyclists on their bikes. Initially, to support social distancing while queuing for the ferry, foot passengers and cyclists will not be carried. Further information about when foot passengers and cyclists will be able to use the ferry, and the guidelines that will be in place to enable this, will be announced in due course.”
Won’t have to stop operating in November 2020
The company has also announced that it’s completed all the necessary refit and maintenance work to comply with health and safety regulations, so it won’t now have to stop operating in November 2020 as previously planned, which is good news for those who rely on the ferry to get to work.
Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said:
“We are very pleased to announce the scheduled return to service of the Sandbanks chain ferry. The decision to withdraw the service was not taken lightly, but we are glad to have used this time to carry out work which means the scheduled refit in November is no longer needed. We hope that this is welcome news for local commuters and businesses as they recover, as we do, from this nationwide lockdown.”
Mike Kean added:
“While I know this service suspension has been difficult for many, our priorities now are to reassure passengers that they can use the ferry again safely and protect our staff whilst doing their jobs.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the entire team who have continued to work tirelessly over recent weeks to get the ferry ready to return to service in a safe way, and to carry out this years’ refit works ahead of schedule.”