PASSENGER numbers on the Hayling Ferry have shot up by ‘three times' today after a burst water main plunged the island into traffic chaos.
Journeys on to Hayling by road are taking as long as two hours after the island’s main water pipe burst and caused flooding this morning.
As a result a section of the A3023, Havant Road, between the Appletree Garage and Mill Close, has been closed while Portsmouth Water carries out emergency repairs.
The plight for drivers, who are now being diverted via Northney Road, has however been good news for the Hayling Ferry.
Skipper Colin Hill said more than 160 passengers, many residents, have turned to the service between Eastney and Hayling Island to avoid the roads.
‘When we started off this morning it wasn’t too bad, then it started to get busier and busier,’ he said.
‘We just took a coach of 53 people who couldn’t get to Sinah Warren because they couldn’t get around on the road.’
He added: ‘For a Friday, it has been three times busier than usual and by the time we finish that’ll be much higher.
‘If the ferry wasn’t here, far fewer people would be getting on and off the island.'
The spike comes as good news to the service, which has struggled with passenger numbers since its 2016 revival.
Hayling West councillor and long-time ferry supporter, Clare Satchwell, said it showed the link’s importance – especially in times of crisis.
‘I think we’ve always known how important the ferry is but so often we associate that with leisure,’ she said.
‘To see it become the main artery for the island today just proves how vital it can be for residents, especially in times like this, when there’s a major problem on the road.’
The burst main has also led to the closure of schools on the island, with reports suggesting supermarkets are selling out of bottled water after as many as 8,000 residents lost their own supply because of the fault.