Road Equivalent Tariff is be be rolled out on inter-island ferry services - cutting fares by an average of 55 per cent.
Details of significant fare cuts on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) network have been announced by Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay today (Thursday).
Fares will be reduced on the Leverburgh-Berneray route; crossings between Tarbert and Lochmaddy; the Sound of Barra services between Barra and Eriskay and also between Castlebay and Lochboisdale.
Following the phased roll out of RET to parts of the CHFS network in recent years, all remaining routes will begin to benefit from fare reductions from October 2015.
The price of a single passenger fare on these routes will fall by an average of 44%, whilst car fares will be cut by an average of 55%.
As well as bringing the price of fares down, where an RET fare would be more expensive than the standard multi-journey single equivalent, fares will be capped at the lower level.
Speaking during a visit to Mull, one of the islands that will benefit from this stage of the RET roll out, Mr Mackay said:
“As Minister for Transport and Islands I’m well aware of the crucial role our lifeline ferry services play for the communities they serve, so I’m delighted to confirm that the RET roll out will bring significant fare reductions for passengers.
“The roll out of RET on other routes has been a real success, bringing benefits to local economies and boosting the tourist trade, so I’m sure this will come as welcome news to locals and visitors.
“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our island communities and understands their concerns about the affordability of ferry fares. In cases where RET fares would be more expensive than multi-journey discount tickets, the fares will be capped at the lower level. This will ensure these lifeline ferry services remain affordable for the remote communities that depend on them.
“Lower fares will inevitably lead to an increase in traffic on these services, but CalMac will have the opportunity to bring forward plans to manage this demand. The operator will engage with communities in due course, and any demand management measures will be agreed with these communities before they are introduced.
“The roll out of RET fares to the CHFS network in the lifetime of this parliament fulfils a key commitment of the 2012 Ferries Plan. It means the entire Clyde and Hebrides 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 and continued funding for the duration of the next CHFS contract.”