Proposals for surge pricing of ferry fares over the summer to curb traffic have received a bad response on the Islands.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar today (Friday January 18th) expressed concern over Scottish Government’s announcement that it is considering an option which would increase peak time fares on west coast ferry routes.

Councillor Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: “This is very concerning indeed and shows a lack of understanding for the needs and aspirations of our island communities.

“What we continue to look for from CalMac and Transport Scotland is an increase in capacity on the various routes, not an increase in fares.

“Increasing prices on certain days of the week or certain times of the year would not solve the underlying problem of lack of capacity which is a result of a number of factors including the delay in the delivery of the two new vessels currently being built by Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd, the MV Glen Sannox and Vessel 802.

 “RET has made quite a difference to people coming to the Western Isles and we are heavily dependent now on tourism.

“I think it is important that we stick to the principle of RET and that prices stay at the level they are at at the moment."

“I am now seeking an early meeting with Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, to discuss these issues. I am sure that the Cabinet Secretary would find a locally based perspective helpful, in addition to the other advice he will be receiving.”

Isles MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil said: “RET introduced by the SNP Government has been hugely beneficial, particularly to the economy in our islands with ever increasing tourist numbers.

“I do not believe that increasing ferry fares during peak times should be considered as a solution to capacity issues.  

“A possible solution to capacity issues could be found by only selling 70% of bookings by a certain date prior to travel, thereafter staggering bookings but leaving 10% of bookings until the last week of travel.  This would help locals who need to travel at short notice.

“Increasing ferry fares will not help and will just make it more expensive to live in the islands. 

“I will be writing to Transport Secretary Michael Matheson about this and to ask that he considers other solutions.”