Friday, 18 April 2014

Ferry fares cut - but harbour concerns remain

A major reduction in fares on the Ardrossan-Brodick ferry is to be implemented from the introduction of the Winter 2014/15 timetable in October.

The savings will result from the SNP Scottish Government applying Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) to the route. RET operates on the basis that it should not cost more to travel by ferry than it would to drive the same distance if a road was available.

The initiative will result in the fare for a car being reduced by over 50%, while passenger tickets will be 30% cheaper.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said, “We made a pledge to extend the RET pilot to Arran by October 2014 and this fares announcement will come as welcome news to islanders and visitors.

“The RET pilot has proved successful on other ferry routes, providing a real boost to local tourist trade and local economies.”

The SNP MSP noted, “The Scottish Government is committed to assessing the affordability of ferry travel to and from our remote island communities, with the aim of bringing in cheaper fares for islanders, tourists and businesses across the country.”

However, the good news of fare reductions was tempered by continued concerns over a lack of investment in the harbour infrastructure at Ardrossan.

The Ardrossan-Brodick ferry has a higher than average rate of cancellations, which operator Caledonian MacBrayne has implied is a result of berthing difficulties at Ardrossan during inclement weather. Clydeport, the private owners of Ardrossan Harbour, have denied such assertions.

The SNP Scottish Government is currently investing around £18m on upgrading the publicly-owned harbour infrastructure at Brodick, and intends to introduce two new ferries to service the Arran route. Clydeport have no plans to provide improved access or facilities at Ardrossan.

the3towns recently revealed the parent company of Clydeport had ‘off-shored’ its multi-million pounds profits, resulting in it paying no tax in the UK.

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