Government unveils RET ferry fares for Bute

Caledonian MacBrayne's ferry MV Argyle in Rothesay Bay.
Caledonian MacBrayne's ferry MV Argyle in Rothesay Bay.

The Scottish Government has announced details of the cost of ferry travel to and from Bute when fares based on road equivalent tariff are introduced later this year.

From October 26, a ‘single’ ticket on the Rothesay-Wemyss Bay route will cost £3.05 for a passenger and £10.95 for a car, regardless of the time of year or the port at which the ticket is purchased.

That compares to the single fare in the current winter timetable of £4 for a passenger and £15.95 for a car, and to the summer 2015 fares of £5.15 for a passenger and £20.15 for a car.

On the Rhubodach-Colintraive route, a passenger single will cost £1.15 and a car single £5.75, compared to the current rates of £1.45 and £7.60 (winter) and £1.65 and £10.05 (summer).

Return tickets will be exactly double the price of a single fare.

October’s new fares will see the completion of the Scottish Government’s RET roll-out on the Clyde and Hebrides ferry service network.

Unveiling details of the new fares structure on Thursday, Transport Scotland said the average reduction for single fares on routes which do not yet have RET fares would be 44 per cent for a passenger and 55 per cent for a car.

Transport and islands minister Derek Mackay said: “I’m well aware of the crucial role our lifeline ferry services play for the communities they serve, so I’m delighted to confirm that the RET roll out will bring significant fare reductions for passengers.

“The roll out of RET on other routes has been a real success, bringing benefits to local economies and boosting the tourist trade, so I’m sure this will come as welcome news to locals and visitors.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our island communities and understands their concerns about the affordability of ferry fares. In cases where RET fares would be more expensive than multi-journey discount tickets, the fares will be capped at the lower level. This will ensure these lifeline ferry services remain affordable for the remote communities that depend on them.

“Lower fares will inevitably lead to an increase in traffic on these services, but CalMac will have the opportunity to bring forward plans to manage this demand. The operator will engage with communities in due course, and any demand management measures will be agreed with these communities before they are introduced.”

Thursday’s announcement made no mention of any final decision on the cost of annual season tickets to and from Bute, an issue which Transport Scotland said last month was still under consideration. RET fares will also be revised on an annual basis, as with the current fare structure.

Transport Scotland is currently carrying out a review of commercial vehicle and freight fares, with the aim of delivering a new overarching freight fares structure which will apply to future Scottish Government ferry contracts.