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Hovertravel is the world’s longest running commercial hovercraft service and is the only scheduled passenger hovercraft service in the Europe. Hovertravel offers the fastest way to cross the Solent between Southsea, Portsmouth and Ryde, Isle of Wight. Hovertravel operate two hovercraft with a frequent service (plus additional services at commuter times) and the journey time is just under 10 minutes.
The hovercraft is a tourist attraction in its own right. Hovertravel was established in 1965 and over 26 million passengers have travelled on the service. The advantage of the hovercraft is that they can travel at extremely low tides. If it hadn't been for the tides, Hovertravel might never have existed. The low tides at Ryde, take the sea out far beyond the town's esplanade, and it has always been impossible for any ship to berth anywhere near roads or bus routes. Until 1965, the only passenger ferries from Portsmouth stopped at the end of Ryde’s third of a mile long pier.
Ferries that travel only in water still have to use the end of the pier today. But Hovertravel seized on the hovercraft's ability to travel across both water and land and launched their service in 1965. No matter what the tide was doing, passengers could embark and disembark in exactly the right place, with no need to trundle up and down the pier as an additional requirement of their journey.
For 45 years, the Hovercraft has been the fastest and most convenient way to cross the Solent, and Hovertravel is proud that it continues to provide its customers with this unique service. Whether it is carrying commuters and school children between Ryde and Southsea, enabling those who live on the Isle of Wight to shop in Portsmouth, access medical facilities, travel to London, carry tourists to the Isle of Wight, or transport concert-goers to the famous Isle of Wight Festival, the hovercraft is the fastest way to travel across the Solent, going directly from shore to shore in only 10 minutes.
Hovertravel provide a ‘Hoverbus’ service which connects with the Hovercraft at Southsea and conveniently takes passengers to and from Portsmouth Harbour, The Hard & Portsmouth & Southsea Train Stations. There are also large car parks at the terminal, coach parking nearby and National Express and Greyhound coach Stations opposite the terminal.
Once on the Island you will land in a prime seafront position, alongside Ryde’s splendid beaches and boutique shops, where travel links including the train link to Shanklin and buses to other parts of the Island are next to the terminal. Hovertravel offer great value all-inclusive travel and attraction tickets to incorporate the Island's buses and trains and entrance to many superb attractions from historical manors and steam trains to adventure and animal parks.
Hovertravel have two craft: Freedom 90 is of the API-88/100S designs, but the BHT130 Solent Express, which was introduced in 2007, marks one of Hovertravel's most significant achievements, being the first model to be entirely designed and built by sister company Hoverwork (now called Griffon Hoverwork Ltd). The BHT130 weighs 75 tonnes, carries 130 passengers and can travel at a speed of 45 knots although is capable of speeds in excess of this.
2009 was a record year for Hovertravel, carrying more than 800,000 passengers and introducing an on-line booking system plus self service kiosks to complement traditional booking channels. Hovertravel's sights are firmly on further growth and enhanced customer offerings for 2010.