West End commuters call for return of 7.55am Rockaway service no response from Govt
A plea by West End commuters for the preservation of a popular morning ferry service has received no response from Government.
Despite a request for reconsideration signed by 250 users of the Green Line ferry, passengers this morning at Southampton’s Rockaway stop will board their 7.55am service for the last time.
West Enders Lynn Hall, Maria MacPherson and Alexa Roberts organised the appeal after learning in the latest Budget that Rockaway services were being axed from eight trips to five.
“We just don’t want to be stranded,” Mrs MacPherson said.
“If there’s any way of getting a service, we don’t care how it’s done. We just want the opportunity to board the ferry, as we have done for years, and get to work on time.”
The appeal was sent to the Ministry of Transport earlier this month, insisting that large numbers of commuters board just before 8am.
The group said they couldn’t understand why a Blue Line service from Dockyard, which they say is unlikely to prove popular early in the day with cruise ship visitors, cannot make an extra stop for the roughly 135 commuters.
Asked if catching the 7.20am ferry would be an inconvenience, Mrs MacPherson said: “I make work at 8.30am. To catch that I would have to race from home at 7am and end up at my job at 8am. It’s a big inconvenience.”
As for the bus, she said: “It takes one hour by car to get to town. You may get people who will switch, but it takes a long time by bus. They should not take away the working public’s transportation.”
Asked if a fare hike would be an acceptable compromise, Ms Hall responded: “Not really. It’s $4 each way. That can really add up.
“It seems they have just decided to take that service off without consulting anybody there, and they have not come back with any answer to us.”
The 7.55am service was also a backup for workers who missed the earlier ferry, she said.
Added Ms Roberts: “Some of us may catch that earlier ferry, but if you don’t have to make work early that’s really inconvenient. Not everyone has that option, especially those with children to send off to school.”
Fellow ferry riders were “up in arms”, she said, when the three began to collect signatures.
The letter, sent also to Marine and Ports, states that the service was enjoyed by commuters for the last ten years, and requests “consideration in revisiting this issue”.
The ferry reductions coincide with the end of a minibus service that shuttled West End residents to the Rockaway stop.
Government expects to save about $220,000 by not renewing that contract, which expires at the end of this month. Transport Minister Derrick Burgess announced the decision earlier this month in the House of Assembly.
Meanwhile, Dockyard services are to be boosted this summer to serve cruise ship visitors.
“How many tourists are going to be heading out from Dockyard that early in the morning, when the working public are already up?” Mrs MacPherson asked. “All of us are asking, why?
“And has anyone in Government considered sending the ferry that departs from Watford Bridge and Cavello Bay to pick us up at that time?
“This is an idea that we have thrown out there. Okay, we don’t need our own ferry, but couldn’t they at least pick us up?”
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