Passengers being encouraged to book the coach service

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Customers on the Ullapool-Inverness coach route should benefit from extra capacity following an agreement by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink and the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS).

Concerns about the capacity on the 961 service which connects with the ferry to and from Stornoway were raised at the recent meeting of the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Coach operator Scottish Citylink, which operates the service, already regularly deploys an additional coach whenever bookings for the service exceed the capacity more than 48 hours in advance of the departure time. Scottish Citylink has previously confirmed that it deploys additional coaches every Friday, Saturday and Monday on its summer services between Monday 23rd May and Saturday 1st October.

As the coach operator runs the service on a commercial basis without any public sector investment, it has previously been unable to guarantee that it can add in extra vehicles to the route with less than 48 hours’ notice unless demand covered operational costs.

At the meeting all parties agreed that it was not commercially viable for the operator to ensure that sufficient capacity could always be provided for anyone expecting to travel without a booking but that they would work together with the aim to ensure that increased capacity could be deployed wherever possible when passengers made an advance booking. An agreement is now in place by the Comhairle and HITRANS with Scottish Citylink that if additional capacity is needed it can be deployed, with any operational losses underwritten by these parties.