The Road Administration is looking for an operator for the Kihnu, Vormsi and Sõru-Triigi ferry lines. Even though Kihnu Municipality feels fewer trips are sought than previously, both the administration and current carrier Kihnu Veeteed say that peak season trips are already at maximum capacity because the crew's working and rest time rules need to be observed.
The ferry Kihnu Virve started transporting people to and from the small island of Kihnu five years ago. Before that, the island had no connection to the mainland during the winter months, while flights were often canceled, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Saturday. The islanders have gotten used to the new ferry by now, are finding fault with it and demand an even better link.
"Tender documentation reads that the administration will procure around 2,060 trips between Kihnu and Munalaid (Pärnu County). The current capacity is 2,120 trips. For some reason, the state is about to procure fewer trips. We cannot understand where this decision is coming from and whether an analysis even exists. The Road Administration has promised that there will no longer be a ferry between Kihnu and Pärnu and that these trips will be added to the Munalaid line. Unfortunately, this promise has not been kept, said Ingvar Saare, Kihnu Municipality mayor.
The Road Administration told AK that there are as many trips during the peak season as the ferry can service. Additional trips can be procured for the off season.
The peak season schedule on the Kihnu-Munalaid line is already at maximum capacity because of work and rest time rules. Changes can be made during the off season. However, statistics suggests there is no need for additional trips in spring and autumn as there is simply no demand," said Mika Männik, leading expert at the agency's public transport department.
Current operator Kihnu Veeteed also says the crew has no capacity for making additional trips. Because the latest tender is for the Kihnu, Vormsi and Sõru-Triigi lines, the Kihnu Municipality elder suggests moving crews from lines where there is less demand to busier ferries.
"Unfortunately, all small islands want tourists to visit on summer weekends, meaning that all ferries and crews are already working at maximum capacity during this period. I do not really see a way to have more trips with the new public procurement without considerably changing the crewing principles, hiring additional crews that is without doubt the biggest expense in shipping," CEO of Kihnu Veeteed Andres Laasma explained.
Editor: Marcus Turovski