MSP raises the idea of reserved ferry travel for islanders

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The Western Isles’ success in recent years in attracting a tide of summer visitors to the region has been a fantastic boost to the local economy.

However, when the Gazette highlighted the unforseen downside to this success, with islanders struggling to secure ferry travel when it is needed, we asked if island residents should get some sort of priority when it comes to booking travel arrangements.

At the moment islanders get no consideration when booking travel because of the restrictions of Calmac’s contract with Government to provide ferry services.

This means locals often lose out to visitors who are able to book space on board weeks, or even months, in advance.

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan told us how he has raised the issue of altering the ferry contract to give islanders some priority when booking ferry travel with both Calmac and Transport ministers.

The Island politician explained: “The idea of varying the contract to potentially allow spaces to be reserved for local users is something I have raised with both ministers and the company.”

He added: “Meanwhile, Calmac have themselves acknowledged that they urgently need to replace an ageing online booking system which regularly shows vessels as full when they are not.

“I continue to lobby the government for much needed extra capacity on island ferry routes.”

Read more about priority ferry booking for Island residents: HERE