Information and Mission Statement
The Wightlink User Group – Who are we?
The Wightlink User Group has been established to be an independent campaign group which comprises a broad coalition of Wightlink users, from both the island and mainland, who have to use the ferries to travel to and from the Isle of Wight in order to access work, healthcare, education, leisure and all other activities.
What’s our history?
Initially, we came together in response to Wightlink’s failure to reinstate a full and reliable foot passenger service following the lockdown. We established a Facebook group to gauge public interest which has grown to more than a thousand members in just 2 months.
What have we done so far?
We liaised with Wightlink about the lack of late night foot passenger crossings. We gained their agreement to introduce trial WightCat crossings prior to Christmas. Subsequently a large number of people used these sailings, demonstrating the validity of our argument which we supported with a petition.Wightlink have now promised a resumption of late night catamaran crossings with effect from the end March. However, many of our members are sceptical that these crossings will not remain a permanent timetabling change. They worry that the late night crossings will be withdrawn at the end of the tourist season so we need to keep the pressure up.
What are our future plans?
The issues raised by this group have necessitated a broadening of our goals. We are aware that our popular and proactive group needs to expand to include those people who are interested and want to be represented but are not on Facebook. We know that at present we are only reaching a fraction of people who need ‘A service that is affordable, reliable and regular through the year’ and who need this to be a legally guaranteed service.Therefore, we need to expand our current platform to increase our membership so that Wightlink and lawmakers have to take notice of us. We want to give you a voice. To this end we are establishing a website, and we will attract additional interested parties by using other social media network avenues and newspaper
articles and advertising.
So please join us…
To add your voice and support to the User Group.
We promise to work with Wightlink and others on your behalf to get us all a better deal for this absolutely essential service link to the mainland. We are marooned without it! Whilst we appreciate that there is a debate over whether a fixed link might be part of the Island’s transport infrastructure in the future, such a link is unlikely to be feasible for many years so we will be focusing on more immediate solutions to the problems of cross Solent travel, which means improving all our ferry services.
Find out more and join us at www.wug.org.uk
Wightlink User Group Mission Statement
To establish, expand and maintain an interactive and collaborative User Group in order to:
- gain a formal Service Level Agreement (public service commitment? ) between HM Government, Wightlink (and other cross Solent transport providers) which legally recognises that cross Solent transportation is essential to provide accessible Healthcare for Isle of Wight residents and Equality of Opportunity for both island residents, businesses and other users and:
- ensure that a formal Service Level Agreement enshrines minimum service level provision and affordability for Isle of Wight residents and other users;
- to provide a forum for interactive, constructive and ongoing dialogue between the Wightlink Company and the User Group which addresses the health, safety and affordable access needs of all cross Solent travellers whilst recognising the need for Wightlink (and the other Solent travel providers) to continue as a profitable company.
- To secure commitment from elected and prospective parliamentary and local council representatives to support the introduction and enactment of legal instruments to effectively regulate the ferries to meet enforceable public service obligation standards and to work closely with other cross Solent transport user groups in order to further our common aims and objectives
- To secure improved affordable and reliable transportation for patients who need to access mainland health care provision. To include provision of a dedicated phone line for patients and carer/companion to access and book transportation, provision of reduced fares for patients and carer/companion needing to attend hospital appointments and provision of parking concessions for patients and carer/companion.
- To secure a minimum level of service on the 3 Wightlink routes including provision of an hourly FastCat service throughout the day and late evening 7 days/week, 52 weeks of the year.
- To secure greater transparency and accuracy on reliability and timetable provision including real and robust engagement with the User Group to discuss and agree proposed timetable changes including all cancellations from the published timetable to be shown as cancellations and not published as an “amended timetable”.
- To secure affordable fares with substantial discounts for IOW residents to travel to/from the mainland without the need to purchase block advance ticket passes and secure agreement from Wightlink that it will consult and engage with the User Group to discuss and agree any proposed fare increases
- To secure recognition that the car ferry is not a viable alternative to the CAT for the majority of travellers.
- To secure commitment from Wightlink to publish an annual public report which clearly details how much of its income is used to improve services and reduce fares and how much is used to service parent company debt and to pay shareholder dividends.