Hovertravel has been awarded a grant to improve accessibility for its customers. Last October, the grant launched was explicitly aimed at lifeline ferries and seaports serving the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains: “Our HoverCare initiative has been a huge success. We are just one of two transport companies in the country to have been awarded Leader status in the Government’s Inclusive Transport Scheme. We know, however, that we can always enhance and evolve. We also engaged with its stakeholders, including Isle Access and its user group (HUG) members, to incorporate their feedback on the bid items to be submitted.
We applied for a broad variety of facility improvements, including a Changing Places toilet at Southsea, an enhanced exit to the pad at Southsea, assistive technology for our website and a lift for our terminal at Ryde. We are also upgrading our hearing loops and the handrails on our hovercraft craft and have a stock of mobility aids at each terminal. Several of these facilities have already been completed and are now open for our customers, with just two projects to be finished over the summer. “
Hovertravel’s Senior Management Team created a working group for the bid application process with input from across the company, including engineers, operational staff, pilots, marketing, finance and HR. This group reviewed the complete journey experience, from researching online to booking, time spent in terminals and onboard and onward connections.
Robert Courts, Maritime Minister, added: “This funding will tangibly improve access to this lifeline ferry link, vital to keeping communities linked with the mainland. We are committed to helping people to travel with confidence as we continue to build back from the pandemic.”
Neil continues: “We are delighted to have received this funding from the Government, and their support at all levels for supporting our accessibility initiative is greatly appreciated. I must also extend my personal gratitude to Isle Access, Euan’s Guide, and the HUG members who contributed enormously to our successful submission.
As with all our HoverCare initiatives, we will continue to be as open as possible about our accessibility approach, including ways to share best practices with other organisations, opportunities to spread awareness of the issues involved, and showcase the lessons learnt. “