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Not now voyager

Barry Turnbull finds a ferry good travel deal torpedoed

Written by . Published on April 27th 2012.

Not now voyager

CAN you believe it could cost just £99 to entertain the whole family for a year at some of Merseyside’s top tourist attractions?

Well, that was certainly the case until a few days ago when I discovered that the bargain annual pass issued by Mersey Ferries is now sleeping with the fishes. 

Upon my attempt to renew my yearly ticket to the Big Mersey Adventure  - unlimited access to ferry cruises, Spaceport, the U-boat Story and Beatles Story,  - an assistant told me it wasn’t possible because the firm behind the swipe card software had gone into liquidation. 

I also noticed that the new combined tickets, now exclude the Beatles Story. Should you wish to take this in too, it will add a whopping £38 to your family day trip - taking the total before refreshments to £78. A Ticket to Ride too far!'

Bosses at Merseytravel, owners of the attractions, scoffed at the idea, claiming the annual pass had been “suspended”, pending a pricing review. It begged the question: why would you suspend something before the review had taken place? 

Until I realised that Merseytravel is now championing a new, all singing smart card called Walrus which is being introduced on a staggered basis.

Right now, it is the time for work commuters who use the ferry to switch over to this card. Can it be coincidence that the annual pass card has suddenly been withdrawn? 

There has been no announcement on the ferries website, no media notices issued, just a quiet vanishing act. Until now. 

I contacted  Merseytravel chairman Mark Dowd’s office. No reply. I have missed a trick though. When I tried to renew my pass at Seacombe ferry terminal on Sunday, Cllr Dowd was right outside watching a parade of veterans. Maybe I should have taken the opportunity to buttonhole the great man. 

Matthew And Kate Turnbull Looking GlumMatthew And Kate
Turnbull Looking Glum
Mind you, I knew it wouldn’t last. If they can persuade day-tripping families to part with £40 (the standard price for a trip on the ferries with attractions thrown in), why give it away at a bargain bucket rate to local families?

It makes no sense in other ways though: during the quiet winter months at least locals could keep the coffee bars and gift shops ticking over. 

I also noticed that the new combined tickets, now exclude the Beatles Story. Should you wish to take this in too, it will add a whopping £38 to your family day trip - taking the total before refreshments to £78. A Ticket to Ride too far! 

Here’s the succinct official view from a spokesperson: “The annual pass has been suspended while we carry out a review on ticket pricing.” 

I also contacted several  Merseytravel board members. Sefton representative Cllr Gordon Friel, a member of Merseytravel but who does not sit on the board, said its decision was regrettable: "It may be that the cost of the pass was too low but the answer would have been to increase it, not stop it. The board appeared to make the decision on the basis of changing systems but even then they could have brought in interim measures. 

"I will try and use what influence I have to try and get something in place."  

Cllr John Salter, Wirral member, said: "The annual pass was discontinued for commercial reasons at the end of March this year (we are honouring the ones out in the marketplace until they come up for renewal). 

“The technology platform for the pass has been discontinued and could no longer be efficiently supported going forward.

"We had not sold many in the last 12 months and supporting the pass was costing more than the income generated so there was no commercial justification to keep it. Any potential new/replacement pass will be considered by Merseytravel’s Smart and Integrated Ticketing Team as part of our Walrus Smartcard initiative." 

Not commercially viable? A bargain like this? 

Farewell dear ferries.

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Salty SamApril 27th 2012.

They also keep it quiet that all-day, all-zone Saveaway tickets (that include the use of the ferries) are available at the Ferry ticket offices.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Paul WardApril 27th 2012.

"We had not sold many ..." Not too surprising when you don't advertise them but do advertise more expensive individual tickets. What other goodies did you agree to and are now reneging on?

Get it sortedApril 28th 2012.

It's shameful that they keep these tickets under their hats. I don't want to go to the Spaceport or the Beatles Story with my children, nor do I want to spend £20 a pop to go on a 10 minute journey over the water which will invariably take 50 minutes and I have to listen to Gerry Marsden on the way. This would not happen in any other city with a ferry service.

MountwoodApril 30th 2012.

The Staten Island Ferry in New York (which is Liverpool's twin town so the Oldham Echo tells us) is not only free of Gerry Marsden, it is free of charge AND you can drink beer (OK - that rubbish Budweiser rice juice stuff) on the trip.

MountwoodApril 30th 2012.

Also in New York one can travel 30 miles on the A-Train for $1, which is about 60p.

OverchurchMay 1st 2012.

Can travellers obtain a concessionary arrangement with the new travel card if they sport a walrus moustache when go to buy one?

Maggie GaskellJune 6th 2012.

I have just found out about this today. Very disappointing news. We definitely can't afford to visit these attractions on an individual basis or even go into Liverpool that often but with these tickets we were out and about at weekends and school holidays. I agree with the comments above that advertising them might have got them more takers. I found out about them from a friend and have told more, none of whom were aware of them. I would even be prepared to pay more (though please, not too much more) as they are excellent value. BRING THEM BACK PLEASE!

Beverley BlunnJuly 22nd 2013.

We haven't been to Liverpool since last year but am returning on Sunday for 6 days. I've just found out that we can't renew our annual pass, meaning our nice, cheap holiday is going to cost 3 times more for 6 days than it normally would for a year!! We're moving up there permanently in a couple of years, but if they don't bring this pass back (or something similar) we may have to rethink as commuting to the jobs we want is going to cost far too much :-(

Ian the WalrusJanuary 7th 2014.

Where are these Walrus cards?

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