Nearly 80% want an Edinburgh to Fife hovercraft service

A majority of people want to see a hovercraft service operating between Edinburgh and Fife, according to the results of a recent survey.

Nearly four out of five people wanted to see politicians act to bring about a hovercraft. Past closures of the Forth Road Bridge have caused problems for commuters.

Respondents were asked questions about their commuting habits, reasons for travelling and whether they wanted a hovercraft to provide an alternative travel route.

Around 70% of respondents said that there weren’t enough ways to make an efficient journey across the Forth. Just over 20% said that enough methods were available to cross.

Seventy five percent of the respondents were from Fife and nearly 73% said they made their journeys for leisure purposes whilst the business option and work option in the survey received just over 11% each. A total of 57% said they make a journey over the Forth once a week and just over half of the total respondents use the car to travel.

A trial of a Forth hovercraft was run 10 years ago. But the service was subsequently ditched after Edinburgh City Council refused permission although Fife Council did give the green light to the plan.

Forty four responses were made between the dates of January 11 to January 31. The survey was launched following the aftermath of the closure of the Forth Road Bridge on January 11 when a lorry travelling northbound blew over onto the southbound side of the carriageway in the early hours of that morning.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The Council has carried out a number of studies and market testing with partners, including Fife Council, exploring the possibility of a cross Forth passenger service, both traditional ferry and hovercraft.

“To date no commercially viable service has been identified but we are happy to engage with any prospective operator and there have been discussions with representatives of Forthfast about their proposal.”

John Mitchell, Service Manager for Asset Management and Sustainable Transport commented: “Fife Council is supportive of, and would welcome, a hovercraft between Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh or any other ferry service along the Forth where it was viable for a private operator to provide the service. Any new public transport provision would need to be owned and run as a self-sufficient business, offering services to the public.”

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said:  “An earlier trial of this hovercraft service involving Stagecoach and Fife Council was not continued following an unsuccessful application for funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which was rejected partly on the basis of concerns about commercial viability.

“It would be open in the future to commercial operators or the relevant local authorities – Fife or the City of Edinburgh Councils – to reintroduce a service if they felt it would be commercially viable or offer good value for money to do so.

“The business case for any service would have to take account of competition from other means of travel across the Firth of Forth, including the new Queensferry Crossing which is due to open in May.”

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