western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to make RET fares a long-term feature on ferries from the Western Isles to the mainland and to roll the scheme out to the Sound of Harris and Sound of Barra ferries within the lifetime of the present Parliament.
Alasdair Allan, who has been lobbying for this extension of the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET), commented: “The commitment to extend RET to the Sounds of Barra and Harris, goes well beyond the SNP’s commitments on RET in its 2011 manifesto, and will be, I believe, a real benefit to islanders and tourists alike.
“RET has clearly proved itself in the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree since it was first introduced by the incoming SNP Government in 2008. With the pilot period at an end, the Government has not only renewed RET for passengers, cars, small commercial vehicles and coaches on all these routes, but has begun the process of rolling out RET across the Clyde and Hebridean islands over the course of the next five years, beginning next year with Colonsay, Islay and Gigha.
“I believe that it was right that the Sound of Barra and Sound of Harris have been added into this roll-out process and that this will only make life easier for islanders and strengthen transport links between the islands.
“While the government has discontinued RET for the largest commercial vehicles, it has reinstated the discounts which hauliers enjoyed prior to RET, and which many sought to get back when RET was introduced. These discounts have also been increased from the pre-RET 15% to 25%. I am happy to meet any haulier who wishes to influence the exact shape of the new arrangements.
“Given the enormous cuts which the UK Government is making to Scotland’s budget over the next three years, I believe that the renewal and extension of RET represents a serious commitment to the islands and their economy.”