A FERRY service which was cut two years ago is celebrating massive footfall since its revival.
The Hayling Ferry – which links Hayling Island and Portsmouth – has carried 40,000 passengers since its resurgence 10 months ago.
Seemingly now a mainstay, the service was forced to draw a line in the sand in March, 2015, when it was cut due to a lack of funds.
Two years later, it’s on track to pick up its 50,000th passenger before the end of the summer.
Speaking to The News, 55-year-old Colin Hill, The Hayling Ferry’s managing skipper, says he has every intention of reaching for the target.
‘My target is 50,000 passengers. I’m really hoping to pass that before we have to stop the ferry for two weeks when the council change the pontoon soon.
‘It’s all down to the weather. For example, sometimes in winter you’ll only get maybe 30 passengers a day – but hopefully we’ll reach the 50,000.’
Mr Hill continued: ‘I love seeing the service do so well.
‘When it started up again I didn’t know what to expect, but by the end of August, I thought wow – we’re serving quite a few people. Clearly people want this ferry.’
Tory councillor for Hayling East, Clare Satchwell, had been an active voice in promoting the ferry’s return on August 05, 2016.
She said: ‘In a way, I didn’t approach this issue with my councillor’s hat on – I helped because I’m an islander.
‘I’ve lived at Hayling my whole life, for 43 years, and the ferry has always been there. I was just one of hundreds who helped.
‘I felt because there was so much positivity surrounding the idea of the ferry’s revival, it wasn’t necessarily a case of how to get it back, but when.
‘It’s always been about the community, so the fact so many people have not only gotten behind the initial campaign but have also used the ferry since it came back is so worthwhile.’
When The Hayling Ferry returned in August it gained a new owner in the form of Baker Trayte – a Southsea marine firm.
More than £20,000 was fundraised to catalyse the ferry’s reinstatement, comprising 340 donations to The Hayling Ferry Trust and £5,000 chipped in by billionaire Virgin tycoon Richard Branson, following Twitter pleas from residents.
More recently, news of the service’s 40,000-passenger milestone – which was reached about three weeks ago – also coincided with a welcome new sponsorship deal with Portsmouth-based chain, Coffee Cup.
In order to reduce operating costs for the ferry, the coffee house network is footing the bill of producing the service’s tickets – in a deal worth thousands of pounds.
In a statement announcing the partnership, general manager of Coffee Cup’s Eastney branch, Peter Osborne, said: ‘We jumped at the chance to help in anyway that we could and we are extremely proud to be the official ticket sponsor.’