CREATING a community bus service could be the only way to link public transport with the Hayling Ferry.
At a meeting on Hayling Island on Wednesday afternoon, councillors and campaigners discussed the possibility of a bus service connecting the Hayling Ferry with the rest of the island.
Initial hopes were for bus company Stagecoach to provide the service, but this is now looking unlikely, with the firm needing an extra bus and driver to compensate for the added time to the current route.
For the community bus to function it is hoped that Hampshire County Council would provide a subsidy to the Hayling Ferry – similar to the £75,000-a-year one recently granted to the Hythe Ferry in Southampton.
Hayling campaigner and long-time ferry supporter Wendy Coates led the meeting.
She said: ‘The news from Stagecoach was very disappointing.
‘They say that they couldn’t operate a service from the ferry because it would require another bus, even though it would only take a short detour from the current route.
‘I think it is incredibly important to keep the ferry service running by adding something like this –it allows people on the island to travel freely to Portsmouth and is a greener alternative to driving.
‘I would say that there is still a determination on the island to push this idea as much as is humanly possible.
‘We are determined to get the ferry in a position where people don’t have to worry about its future.’
But Cllr Lance Quantrill says that there needs to be a solid business plan presented for either Stagecoach or Hampshire County Council to consider the bus route as an option.
He said: ‘I’ve met with the regional manager of Stagecoach to discuss the idea.
‘The extra distance to and from the ferry – as well as the drop-off at the ferry point itself – would add an extra 10 minutes to the journey.
‘Given that the service currently runs every 15 minutes, they would certainly need an extra bus and driver, which they say would cost them £100,000.
‘They cannot make that investment without the guarantee that there would be passengers. The same goes for Hampshire County Council, they need a robust business case to show that there would be enough passengers for the investment to be worthwhile.
‘The previous attempt with a taxi share fell flat – so we need to approach this sort of project with a level of caution.
‘We are looking for a summer trial to see how many people would use a service like this – if we create a strong business case then a bus service could happen.’