Ferry user group meets in Rothesay

INTEGRATION between ferry services and buses at Wemyss Bay was discussed at the Clyde Ferry Users Group’s meeting in Rothesay this week.

Connections between the ferry and the 575 bus service operated by McGill’s, which calls on request at Inverclyde Royal Hospital, have been knocked out of kilter since the change to an hourly off-peak ferry timetable between Rothesay and Wemyss Bay.

Local councillor and CFUG member Len Scoullar told us a representative from Strathclyde Passenger Transport planned to raise the issue with management at McGill’s.

The group, which met last Thursday afternoon, also heard that carriage figures on Bute’s two ferry routes for the six months from October 24 to March 24 are down on the same period in 2009-10, with the fall mostly being attributed to the closure of the Glenburn Hotel in the quietest part of the off-season.

Coach figures on the Rhubodach-Colintraive route are down 27 per cent, while passenger numbers are down 13 per cent and commercial vehicles down three per cent.

On the Rothesay-Wemyss Bay service coaches are down 34 per cent, passenger numbers down seven per cent and car numbers down six per cent - though commercial vehicle numbers have risen by four per cent.

The group’s meeting at the Victoria Hotel also heard that the successful bidder for the new Gourock-Dunoon ferry contract would be named on May 25.

The contract itself is expected to be signed on June 7, and will come into effect on June 30.

The draft Halcrow report into the impact of the trial of road equivalent tariff (RET) fares in the Western Isles, covered in our April 1 issue, was also discussed, with several members suggesting that an island discount scheme might be of more help to fragile island economies than a blanket reduction for all.

The group, one of four statutory user committees overseen by the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS), includes community representatives from Arran, Bute, Cumbrae, Cowal and Inverclyde as well as officials from Caledonian MacBrayne, SPT, the Scottish Government, the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association.