Wightlink has been awarded £276,800 to help improve travel to and from the Isle of Wight for customers with disabilities, which will see fully accessible toilets for disabled adults and children built in Portsmouth and Ryde, and ticket machines improved at accessible height for people in wheelchairs. installed in all ports.

The money has been granted to the cross-Solent ferry operator by the government as part of the Maritime Accessibility Fund, which has seen a total of £1million allocated to ferry services, as previously reported by Echo of the Island.

As well as new toilets and ticket machines, there will be new intercom systems at Ryde Pier and Portsmouth Harbor to help disabled foot passengers request assistance. Additionally, there will be more electric wheelchairs to help Wightlink staff assist customers on ferries and catamarans.

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Wightlink says the 2 Changing Places accessible toilets, fitted with winches, will give people with disabilities the confidence to embark on a ferry journey knowing that their needs can be met during the journey. The continental facilities at Wightlink’s car ferry terminal at Gunwharf Road, Portsmouth will also include a shower and will be available 24 hours a day. The dry toilets at Wightlink’s terminal at Ryde Pier Head will be open while the FastCats are in service .

The facilities will also accommodate people with invisible disabilities who may need a quiet room to wait, as well as autistic children and adults.

Managing Director Keith Greenfield says:

“We are grateful to the government for this grant, which will help us make a difference for travelers with disabilities wishing to cross the Solent.

“While Wightlink adheres to all accessibility regulations and our staff always do all they can to help travelers with disabilities, there is always room for more to make their journeys easier and more enjoyable. Changing Places toilets were central to Wightlink’s application for government funding.

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Red Funnel has been awarded just over £296,000 to make significant accessibility improvements to its services, including

  • Creating more designated accessible seating
  • Improvements to onboard emergency signaling and improvements to each ship’s public address system
  • The installation of push-button, self-closing automatic sliding doors on its vehicle ferries, to facilitate access for all passengers
  • Upgrades to all restrooms in the Vehicle Ferry Terminal

The upgrades will take place during each ship’s regular annual maintenance throughout 2022.

Fran Collins, Managing Director of Red Funnel, said:

“Our service depends on both island residents and mainland visitors, who all travel for many different reasons and with different needs, so we are continually looking for ways to improve our facilities and meet the demands of everyone who travels with us. The Marine Accessibility Fund grant will help us focus on upgrades to our services to improve the experience for passengers with disabilities or accessibility needs, and to further improve similar tasks already planned. for this year.

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Hovertravel has also received funding and will install Changing Places toilets in Southsea, an improved exit to the pad in Southsea, assistive technology for the company’s website and a lift at Ryde Terminal.

Hearing loops are also upgraded, as are the handrails on each of the Flyer hovercraft.

Neil Chapman, Managing Director of Hovertravel, said:

“We are delighted to have received this funding from the government and their support at all levels to support our accessibility initiative is greatly appreciated. I must also express my personal gratitude to Isle Access and the members of HUG who contributed immensely to the success of our submission.

“As with all of our HoverCare initiatives, we will continue to be as open as possible about our approach to accessibility, including ways to share best practices with other organisations, opportunities to raise awareness of the issues at stake and how to highlight lessons learned.”

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