Big drop in number of OAPS using the ferry

The Knott End Ferry service
The Knott End Ferry service

The number of pensioners catching the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry service has plummeted.

Last year, 27,222 OAPs made the short journey across the Wyre estuary, compared to 43,296 in 2007, council papers have revealed.

The figures show a gradual decline in 2013

The scrapping of free fares for pensioners is partly to blame, a report says.

In a report for councillors, based on the most recent figures available, he said: “The figures show a gradual decline in 2013. This is caused by the six per cent decrease of OAP passengers after the introduction of a £1 flat rate tariff, following the ferry’s removal from the concessionary fare scheme.”

However, the number of youngsters aged from five to 16 has almost doubled, with the council expecting overall passenger figures – which have remained consistent in recent years – to match or exceed last year’s figure of more than 50,000 passengers.

Mr Green said: “The ferry has been running successfully under the current contract. Significant improvements to both the entrance to the Knott End Slipway and passenger information have been made.

“These works have included the installation of new coastal defences, improvements to shelters and information signage.

“Some 20m of the slipway surface has been upgraded and an LS Lowry status has also been installed.”

The ferry service operates all year, every 30 minutes between 8am and 6pm in the summer and every hour in the winter. The council signed a 10 year deal with Wyre Marine Services in March 2007.

Councillors could decide to renew the contract, which sees Wyre Marine Services keep 100 per cent of the income from fare but made responsible for insurance, operation, maintenance, dredging and rent, business rates, and other associated costs.

Alternatively they could put the contract out to tender, sell the service, or scrap the ferry service completely from March 25, 2017.

Mr Green said stopping the service is ‘included as a baseline option for consideration but ultimately it does not provide continuation of a valued public service’.

If the council decides to put the contract out to tender, a 15-month process would get underway early next year before a handover in 2017. Coun Michael Vincent, who chairs the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, said: “No decision has been made. People of Knott End and Fleetwood both value the service and it’s something the council does too.”