Residents of the island of Hiiumaa have requested an additional ferry to link them to the mainland during summer months, citing growing numbers of visitors resulting in long waiting lines at ports, the island's mayor says.
The request is not new; prior to the coronavirus pandemic, whose peak saw travel to the island off-limits to non-residents in any case, talks had been in progress to procure a new vessel for TS Laevad to operate between both Hiiumaa and Saaremaa.
In his letter to the Road Administration (Maanteeamet), Toomas Rõhu, Hiiumaa deputy mayor, said that at peak times this summer, following the end of the emergency situation in mid-May, travelers were waiting for three to five hours to board a ferry.
Rõhu requested the additional vessel to run from midsummer in late June, to the end of August.
Statistics cited showed a rise in vehicles taking the ferry of 8.2 percent on year, plus 2.9 percent for foot passengers.
Rõhu also said that the number of people who had missed trips, due to delays in traffic lines which prevented travelers getting a ticket before the ferry sailed, had risen from 6 percent in 2018, to 8 percent in 2019 to 10 percent in 2020.
The figure was based on line lengths in meters, which had grown to a total of 17.6 km in 2020, from 11.0 km the preceding year.
The wait lines at Heltermaa, Hiiumaa's main port, were not only noticeable on Fridays and Sundays, traditionally popular travel days, but also on some week days.
Since Heltermaa is a small port, there would also be lines of cars waiting outside its zone which are not reflected in the figures, Rõhu said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte