MP floats staggered booking idea to combat Islanders’ ferry squeeze out

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil thinks staggered booking might help.
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil thinks staggered booking might help.

Ideas on how to make ferry travel for the Western Isles work for both residents and visitors is a tough ask.

The Stornoway Gazette recently reported on this growing problem and highlighted an idea to reserve spaces on each sailing for only people resident in the Islands, however this idea is thought to be unworkable in reality.

Another idea, this time presented by Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil, is the concept of ‘different time horizons’ for bookings.

Mr MacNeil, explained more: “The Scottish Government refuse to consider the idea of giving Islanders priority to ferry travel probably because every person booking could claim they were local in some way.

“What would help to address the bottle-neck would be to have different time horizons for CalMac to book out deck space, this is something which I have already raised with the Transport Minister, Michael Matheson MSP.

“Perhaps when CalMac open bookings they could open it to 70% of bookings, then a month prior to travel they could release another 20% of bookings and sell the remaining 10% during the week of travel.

“This would help individuals and businesses who need to travel at short notice. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t discriminate against anyone and everyone would be free to book within these time horizons.”