We went to Jersey recently. It’s a lovely Island, although of course it doesn’t compare to my own beloved Isle of Wight (and it’s a 10 hour ferry from Portsmouth, rather than a 40 minute ferry).
Le Petit Train in St Helier brought back memories of The Dotto Train which used to trundle along the seafronts of Sandown, Shanklin and Ryde on the Isle of Wight until 2011.
After a little googling, I discovered this article from Isle of Wight Radio suggesting that the trains might be making a return to Ryde.
The sight of the packed train on Jersey convinced me that there’s still demand for something similar on the Isle of Wight. I’ll admit that it was a Bank Holiday but there was not a single seat available.
It wasn’t particularly cheap either at £9 return for an adult or £4 return for a child (i.e. £26 for a family of four).
About four years ago, Ryde had a Boro Beach Bike which was a pedal powered thing which covered the seafront. I admired the innovation greatly but (from memory) it only lasted for one season.
My hunch is that a Dotto train would do better business, based on my thirty seconds of market research on Jersey.
The majority of the passengers on Le Petit Train were either families with young children who fancied a go on a choo-choo train or older passengers who fancied a sit down. I am generalising of course, but you get the idea.
The Boro Beach Bike was a little too grown up for my children at the time, as their feet wouldn’t reach the pedals. It also required a certain amount of participation which may not appeal to those looking for a relaxing outing.
Personally, I would start with a route which travels from Ryde Pierhead, along the esplanade to the Dell Cafe and then into Puckpool Park. That would provide a combination of good views and a useful service for Wightlink and Hovertravel's foot passengers who want to go to Appley rather than Sandown or Shanklin.
The seafront in St Helier in Jersey also had some rather cool four person bicycles which worked alongside Le Petit Train (Chucklevision style bikes for anyone of my age).
They were painfully hard to cycle, but we enjoyed having a go and didn’t mind paying £8 for a few minutes of entertainment. The chap with the bum bag who took the money for Le Petit Train was also hiring out the bikes, which seemed like a good use of resources.
Perhaps a combination of the two would work well on Ryde seafront.
If anyone wants to launch this venture then I'll cough up for a ride to get you started.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog