A toll increase application was submitted by the company in February 2020, to which a consortium of local councils – Dorset, BCP and Swanage Town – submitted a counter-proposal in November.
In response, the ferry company offered its own revised proposal. The response acknowledged that income will need to be generated in order purchase a replacement to the current ferry, The Bramble Bush Bay, proposes a simple structure of annual increases to provide greater clarity and transparency for passengers and promotes environmentally friendly travel by proposing a freezing of pedestrian and cyclist tolls for 12 years.
The ferry company’s revised proposal also looks to address what it believes are a number of issues with the consortium proposal.
The consortium proposed three annual increases over 12 years, which would see single ticket car tolls jump immediately from the current £4.50 to £5.50 per journey. This could add £10 per week to a daily commuter’s journey from 2021, disproportionately impacting those on lower wages who may not be able to take advantage of the bulk ticket discount options already available.
Instead, the revised application proposes an initial increase of just 50 pence for cars in 2021 followed by planned, transparent small annual increases at a more gradual level over the proposed 12 year period, taking six years to reach the £5.50 proposed by the consortium for introduction in 2021.
The revised proposal also reiterates that no class of toll would be increased by 50 per cent or doubled immediately, as some parties have suggested. The maximum chargeable tolls – the amount the company can apply for under legislation – will be phased in over a twelve year period.
The Ferry Company’s revised proposal also seeks to ensure that costs for local residents who regularly travel by car are offered at an increased discount level, taking discounts up to 32 per cent less than single ticket prices, effectively freezing the cost of book tickets (SFTC Passes) for yet another year.
Commenting, Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Chain Ferry, said, “I welcome the constructive, albeit last minute, intervention from these important local councils into the toll increase application.
“Much of their proposal shows a pragmatic understanding of the way in which the Ferry Company is governed by the Act of Parliament and how it can go about securing the future of the service by putting funds aside annually to replace the Bramble Bush Bay when she retires.
“That is why we have sought to retain the best of these proposals and improve where needed to create an application that we believe can and will work for everyone going forward.”
Periodic toll increases are needed to keep pace with rising costs, maintain safety for passengers and to secure the long-term future of the service.
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