Capacity fears over Bute ferry overhauls

CalMac's MV Coruisk began her spell providing relief cover on the Rothesay-Gourock ferry service on October 28.
CalMac's MV Coruisk began her spell providing relief cover on the Rothesay-Gourock ferry service on October 28.

Concerns have been raised over the capacity available on Rothesay’s ferry service while the route’s two resident vessels receive their annual overhauls over the next few weeks.

MV Bute is due to go in to dry dock this Tuesday, October 27, with MV Argyle following on November 14.

Cover will be provided, as in previous years, by MV Coruisk - but the relief vessel’s smaller capacity (249 passengers and 40 cars, as against the Bute and Argyle’s 450 passengers and 60 cars), combined with the route’s lower overall capacity caused by this winter’s Gourock diversion and the resulting extended crossing time, has led to fears the service might struggle to cope.

Bute Community Council heard this week of concern over the resident ferries’ abilities to keep to the Gourock timetable and of some passengers being unable to board due to capacity problems.

BCC member Mike Blair told the organisation’s October meeting: “If there are problems with the Argyle and the Bute, in two weeks’ time we will have the Coruisk on the run, and she presents her own problems.

“She has room for 40 cars and people are being turned away at the moment.”

Vehicle drivers and passengers have the option of travelling via Western Ferries’ service between McInroy’s Point and Hunter’s Quay and CalMac’s Rhubodach-Colintraive crossing, using the joint ticketing initiative agreed by the two operators, though there is no similar option for foot passengers.