A FRUSTRATED Wightlink customer has set up a petition to stop the ferry operator reducing its passenger services.

Natasha Lee has secured more than 240 signatures.

She explained: "This year Wightlink has sent their catamarans for the annual service. They have decided once again not to provide their customers with a replacement service, apparently because their customers complained about the replacement service.

"I would like Wightlink to be forced to either take steps to replace the lost service, and if they don’t, I believe they should be forced to adjust customer charges (annual/ monthly travel costs).

"I suggest a partial reimbursement, appropriate to represent to the loss of service.

"I want to make sure Wightlink cannot keep reducing their service, to save money, without also proportionately reducing their customer charges.

"The hovercraft is not a viable option for many commuters, who are reliant upon Wightlink specifically, to enable them to earn their living."

A spokesperson for Wightlink said: "Wightlink spends more than £600,000 a year on annual refits for its FastCats and further on routine maintenance on the Wight Ryders throughout the year.

"Dry docking takes place early in the year when fewer customers want to travel.

"As FastCats can carry up to 260 people on every crossing, there is sufficient capacity to carry all season ticket holders and regular commuters on an hourly service.

"Wightlink did not charter an additional vessel during refit in 2018 or 2019, as well as in 2020.

"In previous years, Wightlink found most customers who wanted to travel at this time preferred to use the remaining FastCat than the charter vessel.

"We are sorry that on one occasion in January some Wightlink customers had to wait for the next crossing after another operator cancelled sailings and caused the Wightlink service to be busier than usual.

"Typically, fewer than one in 100 FastCat sailings are cancelled for any reason. During the worst of Storm Brendan this month, Wightlink’s FastCats and Fishbourne car ferries were the only cross-Solent services still running."

The petition is at ipetitions.com/petition/stop-wightlink-reducing-passenger-services