Blue Badge holders will be able to access reduced vehicle fares on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) network from October 2015.
A new 25% discount for Blue Badge holders will be applied on Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) vehicle fares, which are also due to come into effect across the whole CHFS network at the start of the winter timetable.
The discount will be available on car, motorhome and motorbike fares.
In cases where the new discounted RET fares are more expensive than the previously available discount, the fares will be capped at the lower level.
The discount will be open to both islanders and non-islanders who hold a Blue Badge.
Mr Mackay said: “We want our Islands and the attractions they offer to be as open and accessible as possible, so I’m very pleased to announce these new discounted vehicle fares for Blue Badge holders.
“In cases where the new discounted fares are higher than the old ones, they will be capped at the lower level. This means ferry travel continues to Ferry discount for Blue Badge holders be attractive and affordable to everyone.
“Along with the introduction of lower RET fares across the CHFS network from October 2015, this is more evidence of the Scottish Government’s commitment to investing in our ferry services and continued support for the Island economies.”
Discount for forces
But Facebook follower Anji Badley says there should be a forces discount for armed forces personnel and veterans.
Her husband served with the Royal Military Police for 23 years and both sets of parents live in the Outer Hebrides.
She says: “The amount of forces personnel who live in Scotland that would visit the Inner and Outer Hebs if the ferry was cheaper would double and those serving and veterans that have family on the islands visit home more often.”
Alas, we do not have good news for Anji. We put her point to the Scottish Government, and a Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The Scottish Government has taken action to help with fares – most significantly through introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) which has delivered a dramatic reduction in travel costs.
“For example, when RET was first introduced on the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree in 2008, car fares fell by an average of 35%, while passenger fares reduced by an average of 40%.
“RET will be rolled out to all remaining CHFS routes this October, fulfilling a key commitment of the 2012 Ferries Plan to introduce RET to these routes within the term of this Parliament.
“It means that passengers, cars, small commercial vehicles and coaches on the entire CHFS network will benefit from cheaper ferry travel.
“We will continue to invest in our ferry services, with up to £15.2m planned to support the application of RET in 2016/17, with continued funding for the duration of the next CHFS contract.
“There are no plans to implement a specific discount for current or retired members of the armed forces, however, we are always keen to get feedback from interested parties and this includes our Armed Forces Community.”