Fund to improve ferry accessibility

CMAL-owned Wemyss Bay Pier.
CMAL-owned Wemyss Bay Pier.

The second round of awards from the Ferries Accessibility Fund will see around £180,000 spent on projects to further improve accessibility on Scotland’s ferries, Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf has announced.

The successful bidders are Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Serco Northlink Ferries, Scrabster Harbour Trust, Shetland Islands Council and Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd.

CMAL, which has responsibility for Wemyss Bay Pier, and Colintraive and Rhubodach slipways, has received £49,350 for various improvements on accessibility throughout the network.

The awards are made on a match-funding basis.

The bids include plans to upgrade walkways and doors at harbours, the installation of vessel floor plans in braille, and improved access to facilities at ferry terminals.

Mr Yousaf said:“I’m very pleased to announce the second round of awards from the Ferries Accessibility Fund.

“The first round of applications was a great success, so it’s encouraging that more organisations have seen the potential of the awards and applied for funding.

“A wide range of proposals have been approved this time around, including the installation of vessel floor plans in braille, improved walkways and doors at ferry terminals, and improved access to toilets, waiting rooms and other facilities.

“We want Scotland’s ferry services to be open and accessible, offering the best passenger experience possible to everyone.

“Operators already have strict standards to meet when it comes to accessibility but, as we saw with the first round of awards, this fund can help them to go further.

“The Ferries Accessibility Fund is very much in the spirit of the recently launched Accessible Travel Framework, involving disabled people to help make improvements to our ferry network.

“We know that accessible travel can enable people to enjoy equal access to full citizenship, so this Framework looks to identify and remove disabling barriers which prevent people travelling or make their journeys an unpleasant experience.”

>> The Ferries Accessibility Fund started taking applications in November 2014 and is open to bids from the public and private sector.

It aims to make improvements to existing vessels and harbours that go beyond regulatory standards set for accessibility.