I sat down and spoke with Isle of Wight residents to ask them what their views are in regards to the travel services, to get on and off the Island.

  • This opinion piece is written by a member of the Isle of Wight County Press's Young Reporter Scheme

A whole range of points were brought up, however, what seemed to come up most frequently were the issues of the high prices of the boat tickets and the unreliability of the services that are provided. 

The Islanders I spoke to feel dissatisfied with the services that are provided by the travel companies.

However, one Isle of Wight resident did express some positives in regards to the crossing times of the boats, in particular the hovercrafts' short journey time, at just ten minutes. 

My friend Madeleine, 19, expressed how she only leaves the Island on average a handful of times throughout the year, saying: “I would be on the mainland a lot more if I could afford it. The prices are definitely a deterrent”. 

I went on to ask Madeleine if from a young person's perspective the boats can be a limitation: “I find the lack of boats in the early mornings is very limiting.

"So for example, for young people on the Island, if they were to go on a night out in Portsmouth to get back you either have to make the decision to leave at about 12am or 3am, because there is no boat in between and it completely taints your evening because you’re constantly thinking about making the boat home.

"If you miss the 3am then I think it’s the 5am and that gives you no flexibility, especially as a young girl. It’s very difficult to feel safe in that position. Where do you go? Nothing’s open and you also can’t get home to a safe place.”

Madeleine also spoke to me about how she knows a few people who commuted to the mainland for Sixth Form, saying: “I think it’s a good thing that young people do now consider going over to the mainland to go to Sixth Form or College for their further education but I myself definitely was deterred from doing that and didn’t even consider it as an option because I know the boats are unreliable and they’re also really expensive and I wouldn’t be able to fund that.

"Also if I was on the mainland and something happened at home that I needed to get back for quickly, even though the boats don’t take that long themselves necessarily, the frequency of the boats is something you have to take into account because if you just miss one you have to wait quite a while for the next one.”  

I went on to ask what her opinion was of the Floating Bridge service, here on the Isle of Wight, which crosses the river Medina.

She responded: “I think it is ironic that there is a sign on Fairlee Road that states when the Floating Bridge is operating normally as opposed to when it’s not, as it just goes to show that everyone is so used to it not working that it’s a surprise when it does and I think that is so fundamentally wrong, you should expect services like that to more often than not be fully functioning and unfortunately it’s just not the case and I think that is reflected on a lot of transportation systems on the Island, where we tend to expect the worst so when it does go our way it’s almost like luck or a surprise and that’s not how our Island should be working.” 

Madeleine continued to allude to a certain attitude that can be felt amongst Islanders.

I asked her if she felt there was any sense amongst people that there’ll be improvements made: “I personally think the Island has lost a lot of hope in terms of change and things being resolved.

"I think everyone has become so used to the way it’s been and say, “Oh it’s just the Island though” and “It’s the Isle of Wight.”"

I ended my interview with Madeleine asking her if she thought the prices of boat tickets is a contributing factor in some way as to why many people stay on the Island their whole life: “Ultimately it causes a lack of freedom and ambition. If you don’t have a clear direct and cheap way to leave this small Island, people are going to feel forced to stay."

Another Islander shared with me what their experience was like using one of the car ferry services.

They told me they had been delayed forty minutes at the terminal. Mentioning how, once they actually got on the boat, there was no hot food and no coffee either, they said how they don’t understand where the ticket prices are going as, in their opinion, it doesn’t seem to be going towards improving services. 

This sums up why I wanted to write this article, as it is a topic that is very specific to Islanders.

The boats aren’t only used by people going to the mainland for leisure but also for education, for work and for business purposes.