Cowes Floating Bridge

Consultation on Floating Bridge Charges

The Floating Bridge has been in operation since 1859, with cyclists and foot passengers travelling for free since 1992. There is, however, no requirement in law for the Council to provide a floating bridge between East and West Cowes. The Council wants to continue providing the service, but has to do so without adding additional cost to its overall revenue budget.

Last April, the Council made a joint bid with Southampton for funding from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership for a project that will upgrade the Red Funnel ferry terminals in both East Cowes and Southampton. A new Floating Bridge was included in the scheme, as it was seen as a vital link between East and West Cowes. 

The offer of grant funding towards the cost of replacing the bridge will not be enough to cover the full costs of its replacement. It is also most likely to be conditional on the Council having an agreed plan to replace the bridge in the future, together with provision for maintenance over the full life-cycle of the new vessel.

The Council therefore, undertook a consultaiton with residents of the Isle of Wight concerning how it could change its charging regime to account for these needs.   

The consultation was undertaken by Parose projects (an external company) during the autumn of 2014.  Parose projects undertook face to face surveys with 1,030 people from across the Island (53% came from Cowes/East Cowes) and a web based survey was also conducted on the Council’s website.  There were some 834 responses to the web based survey which, by its nature is a self-selecting sample, as opposed to the face to face survey which sought to achieve a sample group more representative of the Island’s population.

A brief summary of the headline results of the surveys is set out below:

  • Of all those surveyed, 71 per cent believed there should be no charges for pedestrians and cyclists for using the floating bridge.  This figure increased to 77 percent of those completing the online survey but reduces to 59 percent of those interviewed face to face.   
  • There was a marked difference between the views of those living in Cowes and East Cowes, and those living elsewhere on the Island; 64 per cent of respondents interviewed outside of Cowes/East Cowes supported charging, compared to 27 per cent of those living in Cowes/East Cowes.
  • The views of users and non-users also differed in this respect, with 72 per cent of non-users supporting the introduction of charges, compared to 28 per cent of users.  Within the users of the floating bridge 74 percent were against charges for passengers.
  • Taking all the respondents into account, the average fares suggested for charging were £0.26p (each way) for adult pedestrians, £0.08p for under-16s.  For cyclists the figures were £0.37p for adults and £0.11p for under-16s.  Respondents to the online survey suggested a charge of £0.18p per journey might be acceptable, whilst the face to face respondents were more comfortable with £0.31p per journey on average (this increased to £0.41p per journey for those not living in Cowes/East Cowes but reduced to £0.22p for those who did).
  • These calculations included a nil value for respondents who answered ‘No’ to the question whether or not charging should be introduced for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • There were marked differences between the residents in Cowes/East Cowes that used the ferry and those that did not. Some 61 per cent of ferry users living in Cowes/East Cowes felt that there should be no charge as opposed to 71 per cent of non-users saying that there should be a charge.
  • Across both surveys 40 per cent of respondents were in full time employment and expressed a strong view that OAP’s, students and the less able should travel free of charge

The results of the report are available below:

  • Click here for the report detailing all (online and face to face) survey results.
  • Click here for the report detailing the online survey results.
  • Click here for the report detailing all face to face survey results.