MSP urges CalMac to reach Bute ticket deal

Western Ferries has operated a frequent service between McInroy's Point, west of Gourock, and Hunter's Quay to the north of Dunoon since June 1973.
Western Ferries has operated a frequent service between McInroy's Point, west of Gourock, and Hunter's Quay to the north of Dunoon since June 1973.

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has urged Caledonian MacBrayne to secure a shared ticketing agreement with Western Ferries for people travelling to and from Bute when Wemyss Bay pier closes in the new year.

Following a public meeting in Rothesay last week in which a representative of Cal Mac said negotiations were still ongoing, Mr Russell has written again to CalMac about the situation, called the lack of an agreement “unacceptable”.

Mr Russell and other local politicians have urged CalMac to take up the offer from Western’s MD Gordon Ross of a shared ticketing arrangement which would cover Western’s crossing between Hunter’s Quay and McInroy’s Point, giving travellers an alternative means of getting to and from Bute via the Rhubodach-Colintraive service at the north end of the island.

Mr Russell said: “Having been involved in this issue several months ago when the closure plans for Wemyss Bay were announced I am astonished that CalMac have not yet sorted out an agreement.

“I know that Western Ferries, who made the original offer, have made it clear that they want the cross ticketing to be available and that they are baffled by the length of time CalMac and Transport Scotland are taking to get the deal secured. So am I.

“There has to be this option for those inconvenienced by the necessary closure of the Wemyss Bay pier for essential work and the sooner local people know they can rely on this alternative the better it will be.

“Negotiations have to conclude with a favourable outcome and on this occasion the ball is firmly in CalMac’s court. Any further delay would be unacceptable.”

Wemyss Bay will close on March 2, 2015 for major repairs lasting 16 weeks, with Rothesay ferries diverted to run to and from Gourock throughout the closure.

For most of that time there will be no spare ferry available in the event of one of the route’s resident vessels, MVs Bute and Argyle, being out of service.