ARGYLL and Bute Council’s proposed response to the Scottish Government’s draft plan for the future of the country’s ferry services was published on Friday.
The response, which is subject to change and ratification at the council’s executive meeting on April 19, urges the Scottish Government to ensure that the country’s ferry network is “reliable, high quality, affordable and flexible” and that services must be ‘future-proofed’ to meet the needs of communities and to “realise predicted growth in key sectors”.
The council’s response endorses the widely-held view on Bute that the plan’s proposal to extend the Rhubodach-Colintraive service timetable to midnight would be of little, if any benefit, and that later weekend sailings between Rothesay and Wemyss Bay, and a year-round extension of the Kyles timetable to 9pm, would be much more useful.
The authority also appeals for the Scottish Government to reconsider its proposal to stagger the roll-out of fares based on road equivalent tariff (RET) - another area of concern expressed on Bute during the consultation on the draft, which ended on March 30.
Under the draft plan, will only be introduced to Bute’s two routes within the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament - i.e. potentially as late as May 2016.
If RET fares are not introduced to Bute until then, the cost of travel could continue to rise by some six per cent a year until RET is finally rolled out to the Wemyss Bay and Colintraive crossings.
The council’s draft respose also warns that low-income families and frequent ferry users could be disadvantaged by the proposal to withdraw multi-journey tickets when RET fares are introduced.
To read the council’s draft response to the Scottish Government’s ferry plan in full, click on the link to the right of this article.