A small victory in the cashless battle: Isle of Wight ferry does a U-turn on 70p extra cash fee to drive to the terminal and parking at Ryde Pier
- Car access to Ryde Pier was increased to £2 for those paying with cash
- Paying with a contactless card got people access for just £1.30
- Passengers complain that if they do not pay they must walk the half-mile pier
In a small victory for those fighting the rise of a cashless society, customers being dropped by car at the Isle of Wight ferry will no longer have to pay more by cash.
The ferry company, which charged those paying with cash 70p more for access to the terminal at Ryde Pier Head, did a U-turn on the policy just hours after This is Money asked why it existed when we were contacted by an angry customer.
After a recent change it had been charging customers £2 for cash payments for vehicle access to the end of Ryde Pier and 30 minutes parking, but £1.30 for payments by contactless card. It is now £1.30 for both methods of payment.
Ferry passengers incur the charge if they want to be dropped off or picked up by car, or park for the ferry at the end of the half-mile pier.
Wightlink runs ferry services from three ports on the Isle of Wight to the mainland, including crossings to Portsmouth, Fishbourne and Lymington
The crossing at Ryde, in the north east of the Isle of Wight, is at the end of a half mile-long pier. To drive to the end you need to pay a toll, which also gets 30 minutes parking, and for a few weeks those paying with cash paid more than those paying with card
In September, Wightlink, which runs ferry services between the Isle of Wight and the mainland, brought in the contactless payment system, charging 70p less for cards than cash for 30 minutes.
Before the contactless system came in last month, people paying in cash could get access for £1. The machines also do not give change.
Passengers who don’t want to pay the toll, which allows people to drive down the pier road to the ferry, can either walk down the half-mile long stretch or get a train.
However, one person who commutes regularly to Portsmouth said the train only met 50 per cent of ferries and cost more money, and walking down the pier was impractical in bad weather.
Just over four hours after This is Money asked Wightlink why it charged people more for paying in cash, it told us it was scrapping the 70p gap and would charge everyone £1.30.
The small print at the top here shows that Wightlink had been charging those wanting vehicle access to the ferry at the end of Ryde Pier £1.30 if they paid with card, and £2 if they paid with cash. Parking charges are extra on top of that.
Charges were then updated to £1.30 for access and 30 minutes parking for both cash and contactless payments
Wightlink’s chief executive Keith Greenfield told This is Money the ferry company brought in the differential price in a bid to ‘speed up access to the pier and reduce traffic congestion, which is assisted by people using contactless payments which are quicker than cash.
‘For a few weeks we had a differential price of £2.00 for cash and £1.30 for cards to encourage people to use contactless cards.
‘Most people are now paying by this method and so we have now harmonised pricing from this week.’
However, the new system was hardly foolproof.
The island’s local radio station reported only a few days ago that a fault with the new contactless payment system saw passengers delayed and miss their ferries because contactless payments didn’t work.
Customers said when they attempted to pay with contactless they ‘were met with a big red cross’.
The declining use and acceptance of cash in Britain has been a controversial issue, with examples of attempts to dissuade people from using physical money.
Last week, Barclays announced that from January customers will no longer be able to withdraw cash over the counter at Post Office branches, which are increasingly becoming de facto banks as the main high street names continue to shut branches.
Meanwhile our sister title the Mail on Sunday recently reported on how Sheffield United football club’s stadium Bramall Lane has gone fully cashless, following the likes of fellow Premier League clubs Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers.