Ferry traffic issues being investigated

The volume of traffic at the terminal is creating congestion on main roads.
The volume of traffic at the terminal is creating congestion on main roads.

Plans are being developed to reduce congestion on Shell Street at the entrance to Stornoway ferry terminal.

The introduction of the Loch Seaforth ferry has seen an increase in traffic around the Stornoway terminal, and this together with later arriving vehicles, has seen particular traffic issues during the early morning and lunchtime check in period.

Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said: “We are, of course, very pleased that the reduction in fares and the provision of additional capacity on the route mean that more people want to travel to, from and within the Outer Hebrides.

“However, it is apparent that this additional traffic has created a number of consequences in ports such as Stornoway and, in this case, we are keen to work with CalMac and the Port Authority to ensure that any congestion or disruption to road traffic on the public highway is kept to an absolute minimum.

“It is clear that there is a growing incidence of traffic backing up onto Shell Street and causing congestion on Newton Street and even as far as the junction with James Street. We are currently reviewing road-markings and signage and are working with CalMac and the Port Authority to review their respective management and marshalling arrangements.”

Finlay MacRae, CalMac’s Area Operations Manager, said: “There are a number of factors which are contributing to the congestion on Shell Street. Firstly, we are seeing a large number of vehicles arriving to check in at the port in a relatively short period of time immediately prior to the deadline. This leads to a build-up of traffic, whilst we would not wish to have to consider extending the check-in period, we would ask passengers to give themselves a bit more time prior to that deadline and have all travel documentation to hand.”

“The efficient loading of the car-deck is particularly important when there are high levels of traffic on the vessel and the large range of vehicles in terms of weight and size now travelling on the route presents us with particular challenges in terms of marshalling and loading.

“We have allocated additional staffing to the check-in arrangements during the summer but recognise that improvements could also be made in terms of better technology as part of the booking, ticketing and check-in processes. We are working with our suppliers to develop and implement the necessary changes to be in place for early in 2018.”