WESTERN Isles MP Angus MacNeil is piling on the pressure for a ferry trial from Lochboisdale, South Uist, to the mainland port of Mallaig by writing to Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP.
Explaining that the local community have been calling for a dedicated ferry on this route for many years, Mr MacNeil said: “The need and case for a Mallaig to Lochboisdale ferry gets stronger each year and the case for a trial gets more pressing.
“I am writing to the Transport Minister to ask that he looks seriously at setting up a pilot on the route as this would give people living in the Southern Hebrides further options in terms of ferry timings, routes and cost.
“Such a route would be cheaper and may give two direct sailings a day of around three hours, meaning 14 return sailings a week.”
Admitting that he ‘realises that budgets are tight’, MacNeil stressed the importance better transport links make to the overall Hebridean economy.
“RET has had a noticeable difference by lowering the cost barrier and arguably as a result of this, the current recession has seen the Hebrides with lower unemployment than the national average, which has been the reverse of past recessions where the Hebrides were really hammered,” he continued.
“Many people who have left the island for work would love to move back if the economy was stronger. As time is also money, my argument that providing quicker and shorter mainland links will further strengthen the fundamentals of the Hebridean economy and help people who want to return and live here, do so.”
Mr MacNeil added: “I believe that a ferry pilot on the route is essential, this way a proper examination of the viability of the route can be determined. Ferry reviews and opinion can only go so far, a trial is what is needed.”