CalMac to seek public’s views at Bute meeting

MV Loch Dunvegan pictured at the Colintraive slipway.
MV Loch Dunvegan pictured at the Colintraive slipway.

CalMac Ferries Ltd is to hold a public meeting on Bute next month to ask the island’s ferry users how their customer experience can be improved.

The event, taking place on Tuesday, June 2 from 6pm until 8pm (though the venue has yet to be confirmed), is part of a series of 24 meetings taking place up and down the west coast, and is designed to find out what the public thinks about the delivery of ferry services from 2016 onwards.

The engagement programme is part of the company’s effort to prepare its bid for the next Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS) contract, which begins in October of next year and will run for up to eight years.

Board members and senior executives from CalMac’s parent company, David MacBrayne Ltd, will be present at all the events, taking place at mainland ports and on more than a dozen islands over the next few weeks.

Martin Dorchester, chief executive of David MacBrayne Ltd, said: “We are working hard to retain the CHFS contract next October, which is why we are seeking the views of the real experts - the people who rely on this service day in, day out.

“Our bid for the new contract will be shaped by the views of the people we will meet as we travel up and down the west coast over the course of the next month. It is critical that we understand our passengers’ experiences of the current service and their aspirations for the future service.

“We’ll never be able to control everything - not least the west coast weather - but there will always be ways we can improve the customer experience on our boats and it is vital that we listen to the views of our passengers if we are to submit a bid deserving of winning the next contract.”

CalMac is responsible for the operation and marketing of the CHFS routes under the terms and specifications of a contract produced by Transport Scotland, a division of the Scottish Government.

That contract sets out the parameters within which the service must be delivered, dictating everything from the fares charged, timetables, and routes, to the ports and vessels that must be used on those routes.

The vessel fleet is owned by a separate organisation, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), which is also responsible for the design and procurement of new ships.

CMAL also owns approximately half of the 50 ports and harbours on the CHFS routes and is responsible for their repair and maintenance.