Vormsi Municipality wants major changes to ferry service ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Vehicles waiting to board the ferry at the Port of Rohuküla.
Vehicles waiting to board the ferry at the Port of Rohuküla. Source: ERR

Residents of the Western Estonian island of Vormsi aren't satisfied with the ferry services currently being offered on the Sviby-Rohuküla-Sviby route, particularly in summer, when current services are unable to handle all of the visitors and heavy goods requiring transport at once, Vormsi Municipal Mayor Ene Sarapuu wrote in a letter to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

Sarapuu noted that every summer, goods start to pile up that couldn't be transported to the island due to high and low water levels, and a second ramp is necessary that would allow for loading and unloading even when waters are extremely low or high.

Round timber is actively transported off the island, and that puts an additional strain on things, the municipal mayor said, also noting as problematic both the timely completion of municipal buildings as well as the transport of higher volumes of goods for Vormsi businesses and residents.

Many island residents also commute to work and conduct other business on the mainland, and the current number of ferry departures and the rigidity of the schedule offered by ferry operator Kihnu Veeteed don't meet the island's needs.

As a result, Vormsi municipal government discussed drawing up a new procurement for the Sviby-Rohuküla-Sviby route, and submitted 13 proposals for changes to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. For example, the municipality wants its representative to be included in the drawing up of procurement conditions. The municipality also finds that the island route should be served by 3,052 departures per year, but that the exact schedule should be updated each year to reflect actual needs. Vormsi municipal government also wants the option to order up to 30 additional departures per year that would not count as commercial departures.

The municipality also wants to ensure that Vormsi residents are granted priority boarding on the final departure from the mainland to the island each day, a practice already included in the conditions for ferry services to the islands of Kihnu and Ruhnu.

The ticket booking system should be user-friendly, and booking opportunities improved. According to the municipality's wishes, ticket reservations should be able to be changed by phone up to two hours prior to departure time on weekdays and around the clock online. Discounted vehicle tickets should also only be offered to vehicles if both the vehicle in question and its owner or driver are registered on the island.

The municipality likewise isn't satisfied with the fact that under the current booking system, all vehicles are booked to the ferry according to their gross weight, as a result of which ticket sales are automatically halted by the system once the ferry's maximum capacity is reached. Those buying tickets should have the option of choosing between a vehicle's gross weight and unladen weight.

Vormsi Municipality is proposing that for island residents, the ferry route to the island should be counted as an extension of the highway, and that they should be allowed free passage on the Vormsi ferry. Visitors during the summer months, however, should be subject to an additional environmental protection charge to help support upkeep of the island.

The municipal government also wants to see the ferry's on-board cafe offer an improved assortment of products and avoid using single-use dishes and cutlery when possible.

Vessels' suitability for the route should also be considered in the course of the procurement, as the current Vormsi ferry's capacity is the smallest, but according to the municipal government, the island's need for the transport of heavy goods is apparently the greatest.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has until January 30 to respond to the municipal government's letter.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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