PASSENGERS onboard a hovercraft crossing were left furious after the captain quipped about the service being ‘better than Southern Rail’.
The joke was made on a Hovertravel crossing from Southsea to Ryde on Monday.
It comes after crossings have been cut back due to ongoing technical issues with two new Hovertravel vehicles, subjecting passengers to a number of delays.
One passenger, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he was exasperated with the service disruption.
He said: ‘They are now down to one craft until the end of February so I look forward to a delayed and crowded winter commute.
‘The captain of their one remaining craft even had the cheek to come on the radio and say “at least we are better than Southern trains”.
‘Such comparisons are childish and completely inappropriate to make to commuters who are running out of excuses with their employers.
‘The directors should all be ashamed.’
The company’s managing director Neil Chapman apologised for the disruption – which will see a one-craft service between Southsea and Ryde until the end of February – earlier this week.
He wrote an open letter to customers on the Hovertravel website, stating that the fixing of the technical issues are taking longer than planned.
He said: ‘I have, over the last few months, sent several apologies as to the current situation and continued delays experienced, and I wanted to take this opportunity to advise of the plans and actions we are undertaking to resolve the issues we are faced with.
‘The implementation of the two new craft has had several operational issues, and while these are resolvable it’s taking considerably longer than we had planned.
‘In addition, we are managing the continued use of the existing craft.’
Speaking about the Southern Rail comment, a spokesman said: ‘Hovertravel prides itself on being a friendly and approachable business, so we do encourage all our staff to engage our customers and to ad lib, but in this instance, we unfortunately got it wrong.
‘Both the pilot and Hovertravel apologise unreservedly for any offence which this may have caused.’
The Solent Flyer and Island Flyer were launched over the summer last year, and upgrades will take place over the coming weeks at Ryde and Woolston.
The Island Express is currently laid up in Woolston, but the company’s board of directors have confirmed investment in the craft, to ensure it is serviceable in the near future.
This will take several weeks while parts are purchased.