The Isle of Wight’s new Floating Bridge will officially enter service tomorrow (Saturday).
The multi-million pounds chain ferry – which connects Cowes and East Cowes – will have its first official maiden crossing at 2pm tomorrow.
The new floating bridge arrived on the Island on Saturday 8 April after construction in Wales and has been undergoing extensive trials and staff training. The real test will come tomorrow when it accepts its first passengers and vehicles.
In addition to the new Floating Bridge and improvements to the slipways and footways at Cowes and East Cowes, the Isle of Wight Council said there have been further improvements to the Saver Card system.
From tomorrow, the Saver Card can be used by all vehicles eligible to use the bridge.
A council spokesperson said:
“Whilst this is good news for regular travellers, it is recognised that they would need to ‘top up’ their cards on a more regular basis.
“Therefore, the Isle of Wight Council has introduced the ability to set up a direct debit; simply decide what your monthly spend might be then visit www.iwfloatingbridge.co.uk to set up your initial Direct Debit. By setting up a Direct Debit, the credit is held in your central online account so it doesn’t matter if your card is lost or stolen. For now, you need to do this manually online, but later this year we will be adding an ‘auto top-up’ facility, this will allow you to set a fixed amount that is added to your account via Direct Debit when you go below a pre-set limit on your account which is determined by the account holder.
“In parallel with the Direct Debit, we have also introduced a ‘low balance alert email’; simply log onto www.iwfloatingbridge.co.uk and turn on the low balance alert email setting and select the amount you would like to trigger for the automated email/top-up. Each time your account balance goes below your nominated amount, we will automatically top-up your account via Direct Debit using same amount as your initial Direct Debit payment.
“We will also be launching a new web app which will be a quick convenient way to pay if you don’t have a Saver Card or any cash; details will released in the few weeks.
“This is in addition to the recent system that was launched last year, which will enabled people to buy a ‘pre-paid card’ style ticket, through the use of new self-service machines, so now users can choose the best way for them to obtain their tickets – through Direct Debit or using the pre-paid card system.”
The eagerly anticipated floating bridge is 37 metres long and will be capable of reaching up to five knots and will carry a total weight of 52.65 tonnes.
The replacement floating bridge was built by Welsh firm Mainstay Marine Solutions Limited and will ensure the future connectivity between Cowes and East Cowes, for at least the next 25 years .
Meanwhile, a decision on the name of the new Floating Bridge has been delayed until after the General Election.