A NEWPORT based civil servant who works for the Ministry of Defence in Southampton, has been forced to work from home this weekend after being told many sailings were sold out.
Richard Kent uses the East Cowes to Southampton Red Funnel vehicle crossing throughout the week, using a season ticket.
The issue of sailings being fully booked is more prevalent than usual due to Bank Holiday weekend and reduced passenger capacity, and is likely to resurface during the summer, with people around the UK unable to travel abroad.
Richard said: “I’ve been taking the car across and all of a sudden because everything is unlocking they’ve forgotten about the commuters.
“I’ve been commuting for five and a half years and usually for busier times, such as festival weekends, you’ll get priority boarding as a season ticket holder, but I’ve never known it like this.
“At the moment there’s no additional assistance to commuters who have to go to the mainland for work.
“We need people coming over and money in the economy but don’t do it at the expense of commuters who still have to earn a living.”
Richard’s boss has allowed him to work from home, but this isn’t a viable long term solution as he needs to be present for a number of his duties.
What the ferry companies say about the Bank Holiday bookings…
“Sailings from the mainland are busy this afternoon (Friday) but there is good availability for vehicles at other times this weekend.
“There is also plenty of room for foot passengers on the Fishbourne to Portsmouth service and on the FastCats although advance booking is recommended.”
Most sailings are already booked for today (Friday) and some crossings sold out for Monday May 3. At this time, plenty of space is available on Saturday and Sunday.
Sailings are filling up as Red Funnel runs at reduced passenger capacity, carrying 56 per cent of normal limits in support of social distancing.
The company is operating a two-boat service, as Red Falcon is out for engine crankshaft repair.
Fran Collins, chief executive of Red Funnel, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming more passengers over the Bank Holiday weekend.”
“Hovertravel still has space on several services for customers to make the most of the upcoming bank holiday.
“Additionally, we will add more services if we get full, even at the last minute, so anyone wanting to fly across the Solent can enjoy the long weekend.”
Will Myles, managing director at Visit Isle of Wight added: “We have been urging visitors to follow the guidelines and travel ‘the Wight Way’ at ferry terminals and at VisitIsleofWight.co.uk.
“(We ask visitors) to respect Island residents who have worked so hard to keep the infection rate as low as possible here, by following the Visitor’s Charter, developed with IW Council.
“We’re very pleased – and not at all surprised – that self-catering on the Island is proving so popular and this will be a welcome boost for local tourism.
“Not just the accommodation sector but also for the many local businesses and the people who work in the tourism and hospitality sectors.”