Below are two letters to the editor, concerning the future closure of ticket offices, including the new one at Ryde Esplanade.

From Yvonne Williams, Ryde:

As Ryde residents know only too well, there has been a huge investment in tarting up the Esplanade Interchange. 

As we survey the new routes off the pier carefully designed to create a new bottleneck at the pedestrian lights, the sudden uprising of concrete plant pots for more palm trees which reduce visibility, and a new arrangement of bus stops, we must be wondering what all this has been for.

What an irony then if actually there was no need for all the years of disruption and noise suffered by those living nearby or having their journeys prolonged as just at the point of completion, our ticket office is set to close?

The government cost-cutting will lead to discrimination against the most vulnerable groups of travellers: those too poor to afford a bank account from which to purchase a ticket online and those with visual impairment who cannot purchase a ticket from a ticket machine. 

How are travellers meant to cope when the ticket machine is out of order?

Who is there for those who need assistance in finding the best route to their destination, particularly when there is unexpected disruption to the network due to delays in ferry connections or cancellations which are now sadly routine? 

Station staff are the valuable intermediary between passengers and rail travel companies.

Rail companies have myriad procedures for claiming back money on unused tickets, wrongly dated ones and delayed journeys. 

Station staff are excellent guides who help resolve these issues. 

Why should travellers be expected to embark on a virtual journey as strenuous as the real one just to get the right train journey at the right price? 

Time for a rethink on this policy if we are to retain equal access to all parts of the country via our transport routes. 

And time for our MP, Bob Seely to spring to the defence of his constituents.

From Ron Reeves, Brighstone:

I note from locals' comments that some think closures are down to the Isle of Wight Council, and South Western Railway.

Mark Harper, the Minister for Transport, asked all railway franchises to save money and close ticket offices. It isn't the fault of either of the above.

Myself, I prefer to have railway staff to help at these centres.

Mark Harper isn't considering that overseas tourists use the trains, and old people, and those not on i-pads etc.

With more cars and high parking fees, railways are the best future for moving heaps of people, as they are for freight.

He needs to wake up, sort the strikes out, and get bums on seats ASAP.

If Ryde's new office has to close, it could make a nice Isle of Wight Tourist Information Centre, as it is in the right spot.

Alternatively a bus information centre.

Failing that, an ice cream parlour and coffee shop.

Maybe Mark Harper can come up with a good idea for there, and Shanklin.

He might even need a nice modern small office if he can't sort the transport mess out soon.