Cliff Bennett (CP letters online and 30-07-21) misses the point when comparing Wightlink with institutions such as big supermarkets, oil companies, banks etc. because we have the freedom to choose whether we give such businesses our valuable custom.

With the ferry monopoly we have no choice.

If we want to travel to the mainland then it's either Red Funnel or Wightlink.

These businesses are operated for the benefit of shareholders, not islanders.

Try booking a one way crossing with a car at the moment and you'll be unlikely to find anything under £100.

The current situation really impacted me last Thursday when I needed to travel to London urgently. The only ferry available was at midnight from Fishbourne, which got me to the capital around 1.40 am. All earlier ferries were 'sold out'.

I have always been opposed to a fixed link but the Covid situation, combined with mechanical problems on the ferries has really highlighted how vulnerable we are to such issues.

Isle of Wight County Press: Isle of Wight ferries.Isle of Wight ferries.

I suggest the way forward is to put a fixed link out to private tender.

Whoever wins would gain the right to charge, say, £30 per crossing per car, with adjustments for caravans, motor homes and commercial traffic, for a period of 20 years, after which ownership and fees would revert to the Isle of Wight Council.

Such a link could include an unmanned railway, like the Docklands Light Railway in London, providing frequent — and more importantly reliable — crossings for foot passengers.

Such a link would enable us to travel to the mainland unhindered by weather, staffing or mechanical issues 24/7. It would also prove invaluable to the many Islanders who have to travel to Portsmouth Hospital for cancer treatments that are not available at St Mary's. This is currently a time-consuming and costly exercise for both the patients and the council.

I suggest it would also help reduce shop prices for Islanders.

While queuing for the midnight ferry, I noticed two supermarket lorries waited well over an hour to board, which, combined with the crossing time, meant probably two hours wasted in total.

That's a huge cost, which I have no doubt is passed onto Island shoppers.