Ferry Plan published

M V Hebrides. SGD. 22227
M V Hebrides. SGD. 22227

An “updated” Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) formula will mean an increase in the ticket price for cars, small commercial vehicles and passengers travelling on ferries.

This was one of the announcements following the publication of the Scottish Governments Ferry Plan - the blueprint for ferry services over the next decade.

The new formula is to “reflect the current equivalent costs of driving a car” and will see the price of a ticket increase by, on average, 8.2% - with some routes seeing an increase of up to 10.6%. The price of a return ferry ticket from Stornoway to Ullapool for a car and two passengers would increase by almost £10, bringing it to approximately £130.

The additional revenue generated by applying the new formula will then be reinvested in commercial vehicle fares to reduce the impact of the removal of RET for these vehicles. The Government has pledged that the commercial fare will not rise by more than 10% in 2013 meaning a reduction in the planned 50% increase which was due to be imposed in March.

The Ferry Plan also saw the Governnment commit to looking at the economic viability of introducing a new service between Mallaig to Lochboisdale in time for the re-tendering of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry contract in 2014. This was due to what the Transport Minister Keith Brown described as “strong representations from local communities”.

Services will be also be improved between Oban, Barra and South Uist with an increase in sailing days from four to five during the winter months.

Speaking following the publication of the plan on Wednesday (19th) Keith Brown said: “The long term future of ferry services in Scotland is vital not only for Scotland’s economic wellbeing but also for the people in our island and remote communities. Having concluded an extensive consultation which saw over 2000 responses, today we are laying out how we will expand and improve ferry services across Scotland.”

He added: “After a thorough consultation and detailed analysis of service provision, the final Ferries Plan will, I believe, give communities, businesses and visitors alike more services with the necessary vessels and infrastructure to match. We want to see real change for the better for those who rely so heavily on our ferry links, and those views, needs and aspirations have been foremost in our minds as we seek to take ferry services forward over the next decade with purpose, determination and vigour.”

Commenting on the Ferry Plan Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said: “There are many things in this plan which I have lobbied for. Not least is the recognition that the five Western Isles to mainland ferry ports need to continue, and that the winter services from both Lochboisdale and Castlebay need to be more frequent.”

He continued: “The report also confirms that RET is here to stay for cars, small commercial vehicles and passengers in the Westerns Isles, and is being made permanent ahead of its introduction in many other communities.

“It also confirms that RET will be rolled out to the Sound of Barra and Sound of Harris, along with other routes throughout Highlands and Islands by 2016.

“There are other areas where clearly the community has made an argument for further developments, not least the argument which has been made in Uist for a service from Lochboisdale to Mallaig.

“I realise that campaigners for this new service will wish to continue their campaign, and the fact that the Ferries Plan indicates the issue will be looked at again in the context of the renewal of the contract for Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services provides, I hope, an opportunity for this to be debated.”