A REGULAR, seven-days-a-week fixed timetable has been introduced on Caledonian MacBrayne's Rhubodach-Colintraive service.
The change, which took effect on Friday morning, co-incides with the start of the company's summer timetables and fares, and follows the trial of a fixed timetable on Sundays only during the 2008-09 winter service on the short route across the Kyles.
Previously the service was advertised as running "at frequent intervals" outside of the morning and evening peak, with a stated aim of having departures at least every 25 minutes during the rest of the day.
From today, the ferry departs each side at 20-minute intervals during Monday to Friday peak periods and 30 minutes at most other times, though there are a few anomalies over the course of the day, mostly to accommodate scheduled local bus services.
Additional sailings will be undertaken if the volume of traffic requires them.
Until Thursday, April 9, the last sailings of the day is at 7.55pm from Colintraive and 8pm from Rhubodach. Between April 10 and August 30, the last sailings will be an hour later, at 8.55pm from Colintraive and 9pm from Rhubodach.
Anyone using CalMac's 'Explore 2009' brochure to plan their journey on the Colintraive route should note that a small number of errors have crept into the timetable, as follows: the 6.15am, 6.45am, 7.15am and 7.45am sailings from Rhubodach will all depart five minutes earlier than as printed in that brochure.
All other publications, including the company's website, feature the correct times.
CalMac staff began handing out pocket-sized versions of the new timetable to all users of the service on Monday.
CalMac's Rothesay-Wemyss Bay summer service operates along similar lines to previous years, with additional late sailings on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays leaving Rothesay at 7.45pm and returning from Wemyss Bay at 8.45pm - the latter departure being five minutes later than past years to better accommodate train times.
There are also earlier sailings on Saturdays, leaving Rothesay at 7am and Wemyss Bay at 8am, while additional sailings operate on Sundays at 10.10am from Rothesay and 11am from Wemyss Bay.
Also on Sundays, the 12.15pm departure from Rothesay is re-timed to leave at 11.50am.
A 3.8 per cent increase on last summer's fares will take effect on all the company's routes from Friday, except those which are part of the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) trial in the Western Isles - though discounted 'winter' fares will continue to be available for all tickets bought on Bute.
The company's summer timetables and fares last until until Saturday, October 24.
West Coast Motors' extra summer buses to Ettrick Bay and Canada Hill also begin on Friday, while some journey times will be adjusted on the company's Rothesay-Portavadie and Rothesay-Dunoon routes to take account of the changes in the Colintraive ferry timetable.
The additional summer Sunday buses between Rothesay and Dunoon, which were introduced as an experiment some years ago and have proved increasingly popular, are not likely to begin until May at the earliest.
A spokeswoman for Argyll and Bute Council, which subsidises Bute's local bus services, said no decision had yet been made on which experimental bus journeys would be supported this summer.
CalMac timetables and fares - from official Caledonian MacBrayne website
Bute bus timetables - courtesy of West Coast Motors
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