Scottish ferries draft plan
A blueprint for future ferry services has been published today and communities have until the end of March 2012 to comment on the plans.
The Scottish Ferries Review is now complete and the Scottish Government is seeking feedback from local communities on the draft Ferries Plan.
Minister for Housing and Transport, 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. As a Government we are absolutely determined and committed over the next decade to delivering on a progressive basis improved ferry services, and the draft Ferries Plan focuses on the things that we know matter most to our communities.
"We want to build on the momentum generated by our recent announcement to extend the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) during the lifetime of the current Parliament, and the draft Ferries Plan provides a raft of further positive proposals. We believe the RET underpins the way forward for ferry fares and we plan to replace the current route specific nature of fare setting with RET as the basis for fares for passengers and cars.
"The draft Ferries Plan sets out a way ahead - focussing on making connections better, improving reliability and journey times, and maximising opportunities for communities to thrive. We have proposed more vessels and more services across extended operating days, looked at how best to fund and procure services, how we can deliver ferry services in more environmentally friendly ways, and crucially - getting the most for every pound of taxpayers' money invested.
"We will also willingly take on more responsibility for lifeline ferry services. We are keen to work with Local Authorities currently providing lifeline services who would seek to transfer responsibility to Scottish Government. This could potentially be beneficial in improving both local ferry services and infrastructure, and direct resources more effectively.
"We want to make a difference to people who contribute so much to the fabric of Scottish life and the proposals we have laid out today are aimed at taking our ferry services forward with purpose and with those communities' interests at heart.
"The future of our ferries is being shaped now and we would ask that those who cherish Scotland's ferry services and want the very best for the provision of ferry services over the coming decade, let us hear their views now."
Contributions to the draft Ferries Plan will be open until March 30, 2012. A final Ferries Plan is due to be published in 2012 which will provide clear strategic guidance for the provision of ferry services in Scotland through to 2022.
Key options of the draft ferries plan include:
- We will replace the route specific nature of fare setting with one single overarching framework - Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) will be the basis for single fares for passengers and cars. This follows on from our recent announcement to roll out the scheme to other routes during the lifetime of this Parliament. We also confirm an intention to roll out RET in the Northern Isles in the longer term
- In the longer terms our aim is to develop an overarching freight fares policy
- We will look in the next CHFS (Clyde & Hebrides Ferry Services) tender to extend the current definition of a commercial vehicle from five metres to six metres in line with the Northern Isles
- The Scottish Government is willing to be responsible for all 'lifeline' ferry services in Scotland, currently provided by local authorities if they want us to be and subject to financial agreement. This would also cover Orkney & Shetland interisland services
- An upgrade of the Ardrossan - Brodick service to Arran to a two vessel service operating a more frequent shuttle service through to late evening
- Enhancing the secondary route (Colintraive to Rhubodach) on Bute running the service through to midnight
- Later evening sailing on Cumbrae one or two evenings per week
- Upgrade the Oban-Craignure (Mull) service to a two vessel service operating a more frequent shuttle service through to late evening
- Provide overnight berthing facilities allowing for an extended operating day for Iona
- Improve the current winter service for Coll and Tiree
- Improve services to the Small Isles - including a new Sunday service to each community for school children returning to school and making it possible on at least one day per week for residents to make a meaningful return trip to the mainland. Also, longer term to replace the current single vessel with a two vessel service.
- Offer nil fares for Jura residents travelling to Islay when that is part of an ongoing journey to the mainland. More sailings to Islay to call in at Port Askaig to improve onward travel connections to Jura.
- Offer an additional sailing day in the summer for Colonsay, offer at least one day per week when it is possible to do a return sailing to the mainland, and a commitment in the longer-term to work towards more sailings during the winter
- Consider offering a vehicle and passenger service between Campbeltown and Ayrshire one or two days per week
- Extend the operating day for Gigha by constructing new berthing facilities
- For Barra, we will look to increase the number of sailing days from three to five in the winter
The Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) scheme involves setting ferry fares on the basis of the cost of travelling an equivalent distance by road. Typically RET would offer substantial fares reductions across almost all ferry routes in Scotland.