CalMac urged to reach Bute ticket-share deal soon

Western Ferries' MV Sound of Seil at the company's McInroy's Point terminal at the west end of Gourock.
Western Ferries' MV Sound of Seil at the company's McInroy's Point terminal at the west end of Gourock.

The managing director of Caledonian MacBrayne has been urged to ensure an agreement is reached soon on a shared ticketing arrangement with Western Ferries for people travelling to and from Bute.

Local councillor Robert Macintyre has written to Martin Dorchester asking for the issue to be resolved before the ferry terminal at Wemyss Bay closes on Monday, March 2 for 16 weeks, and Rothesay’s ferries are diverted to and from Gourock.

Councillor Macintyre wants people travelling to the island to have the option of using Western’s vehicle ferry to Hunter’s Quay and the CalMac crossing to Colintraive, rather than a wait of up to two hours for the next ferry from Gourock to Rothesay.

In his letter, Cllr Macintyre told Mr Dorchester: “Your officials at two recent public meetings on Bute have said that talks are ongoing but time is now of the essence and I understand that no discussion has taken place with Western Ferries.

“This is very disappointing and I would urge you to contact Western as soon as possible to discuss and put in place a ticketing system which would ease the pressure, especially at weekends.”

Meanwhile, the lack of obvious information on CalMac’s website about the forthcoming Wemyss Bay work - due to last until the end of June - has been brought to the company’s attention this week.

Anyone visiting will immediately see plenty of information about disruption to the Stornoway-Ullapool service between April 20 and May 18, but the only mention on the home page of the Wemyss Bay disruption is on the rolling ‘carousel’ - after mentions of the company’s 2016 calendar competition and Kids’ Club, among much else.

A spokesperson said: “You can be assured Bute is every bit as important to us as the Western Isles. We’ve been talking about the Wemyss Bay works since the autumn and we’re all now waiting for the work to begin. The only outstanding issue is the joint ticket and we’re working on that.

“The Stornoway/Ullapool issues are still evolving and are very much a live topic. The one thing both have in common is that we are trying to minimise the impact on our customers of situations which are not of our making and over which we have no control.”