I have read with interest the recent correspondence within your pages regarding the Ryde to Portsmouth Wightlink FastCat service and the issues that Isle of Wight residents are finding with it.

It is perfectly clear that Wightlink do not want to increase the timetable on this service.

The current level of service is akin to what was operated during the 1970s.

Peak times only hourly, weekdays every two hours over the late morning/early afternoon period and the last one back to Ryde at 8.20pm every day, even during the peak summer season. Is it 2022 or 1972?!

During the pandemic Wightlink completely withdrew all its ferry services, furlough most of its staff and only ran a skeleton one boat every two hour service on its Fishbourne route, despite being given nearly £2million pounds by the government to keep lifeline ferry service operating!

When the catamaran service was initially reintroduced the last one back to Ryde was at 4.15pm in the afternoon! No good for commuters, school children, those with hospital appointments, leisure travel.

Thank goodness Hovertravel stepped in and provided foot passengers with a service.

Things aren't much better now. From my own personal experience as a shift working commuter of over 20 years standing, working in Portsmouth, it is now impossible to live on the Isle of Wight and commute to the mainland to do my job.

I was born and bred here and live in Ryde as the FastCat service was frequent and reliable so a daily commute was viable, therefore I chose to carry on living on the Isle of Wight and commute rather than move to the mainland, as the Island is a nice place to live.

However now that the last FastCat back to Ryde is 8.20pm my late shifts can mean being away from home on some days up to 15 hours.

Wightlink will tell you to use the car ferry; of course this is no good as it only runs every two hours in the evening and ends up at Fishbourne with no train or bus connections, no taxi rank and virtually no parking except a few limited spaces that fill up quickly in their own terminal and cost £11.60 a day to use on top of the ferry fare.

It has been a horrendous two-and-a-half years commuting from Ryde because of Wightlink's inability to provide a decent timetable on the Fastcat service.

The Ryde FastCat has the best public transport link to the Isle of Wight but is no longer fit for purpose as the timetable is useless.

People want to travel to the mainland for a day out but can't as you have to leave so early that its not viable, no more football, evening theatre visits, meals out, day trips to London unless you leave the capital at 6pm.

Less people are travelling as they don't want to end up at Fishbourne in the middle of the night.

People want to travel but can't if the service is not provided in the first place.

There are not many of us shift working commuters left as most have now given up and moved to the mainland.

People just don't bother to travel for leisure in the evening as they can't get back to Ryde or catch the train.

In the long term I am not able to carry on doing 13-15 hour days, ending up at Fishbourne when I want to be in Ryde, finishing work and having to wait nearly two hours for a ferry home.

Sadly a move to the mainland leaving behind family, friends and hobbies may be on the horizon as I have to think of the effects on my health.

I think Wightlink wishes to run down the FastCat service in the same way they did the Lymington service nine years ago.

The Isle of Wight will suffer as higher earners will move away because of poor connectivity and visitors will not come as they can not get here via public transport at a reasonable hour.

The Isle of Wight is sleepwalking into becoming a large retirement village, just look at the amount of empty shops in Newport and the fact its mostly national chains that are leaving.

What is there for young people here now? Certainly no good career opportunities and commuting is so difficult unless you work nine to five.

The social and economic impact of not having good connectivity to the mainland means that the eastern half of the Isle of Wight who mostly use the FastCat will decline.

If Red Funnel can run a full evening timetable on the Red Jet why can't Wightlink?

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