The selection process for the next Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) contract is now underway, Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay announced today (Tuesday).
The next contract will run from 1 October 2016 for a duration of up to eight years. Scottish Ministers will provide up to £1bn of funding to support the enhancement and development of these lifeline ferry services, in addition to fares revenue.
This funding will also ensure the continued application of Road Equivalent Tariff to CHFS routes, bringing significantly reduced fares and helping to support the tourist industry on the islands.
A Contract Notice has been submitted to the Official Journal of the European Union, signalling the Scottish Government’s intention to take forward a competition for the provision of the services from October 2016.
Preliminary work on the procurement exercise began last year, and today marks the start of the selection process inviting potential bidders to come forward.
Mr Mackay said: “The Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services play a crucial role in the day-to-day lives of our island communities, enabling continued and sustainable economic growth. We have made clear our commitment to supporting them by ensuring we deliver safe and reliable services for ferry users.
“The Contract Notice is the first formal step in taking forward a competition for the next CHFS contract, which will run from 1 October 2016.
“We are looking to award a contract that runs for a period up to eight years. This will make it more attractive to potential bidders by giving the operator more opportunity to deliver service improvements and efficiencies over the course of the contract.
“The tendering team began the preliminary procurement steps last year, but this effectively starts the selection stage of the process and we are now encouraging potential bidders to come forward.
“A full public consultation exercise was undertaken during the Ferries Review, which helped to define the shape of future ferry services. The Ferries Plan, published in December 2012, will form the basis of the contract. This engagement process will continue so that all key stakeholders are kept fully informed throughout the procurement exercise.
“I also remain clear that there will be no unbundling of services, and reiterate that the tender will be taken forward as a single contract.
“We are now focused on ensuring a fair and open competition that leads to getting the very best deal for all of the communities of the Clyde and Hebrides.”