Committee insists CalMac explains
Copy of letter to Martin Dorchester, managing director, CalMac Dear Mr Dorchester, We, Mull and Iona Ferry Committee on behalf of an increasingly disgruntled local community, need an urgent explanation for the collapse of service reliability on the Oban to Craignure service.
Through the 12-year period between 1999 and 2010, although the number gradually increased, the average number of cancellations was a modest 16.7 each year. In the winter of 2013/14 there were 62 cancellations and in 2014/15 there was a massive 160 cancellations due to bad weather. This is a 10-fold increase in the cancellation rate.
It seems the service status is placed on ‘amber’, when weather conditions are far from extreme.
On our committee we have numerous experienced commercial boat operators, all familiar with the local conditions. They are often left incredulous at the moderate weather conditions that result in amber warnings and cancellations. Not only are the cancellations a huge economic and social problem for islanders, but the persistent ‘amber warning’ that hangs over the service is a huge disincentive to the visitors on which our economy relies.
It is not tenable to blame deteriorating weather – no such decline has been noted on other services outside the CalMac network. Neither is the ferry incapable – the MV Isle of Mull has plied the route from 1988 and has until very recently had a good reliability record.
Perhaps it is simply too much trouble to use the anchor to assist with getting on and off the pier?
Instead, one has to ask if a culture of timidity has taken hold in CalMac, encouraged either explicitly or tacitly by management that would rather have a boat tied up than doing its job serving the islands.
We insist on an explanation from CalMac management as to why they cannot run the service they are
contracted to provide during winter months. The current state of affairs is no longer acceptable.
Neal Goldsmith, chairman, Mull and Iona Ferry Committee.