Ur­gent call to meet MSP over ferry row

The Oban Times - - News -

SLEAT Trans­port Fo­rum are call­ing for an ur­gent meeting with the new Scot­tish Trans­port min­is­ter.

The fo­rum is hop­ing to sit down with Humza Yousaf MSP, the new min­is­ter for Trans­port and Is­lands, to bring to­gether the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, Trans­port Scot­land and CalMac to re­solve the con­tin­u­ing is­sues on the Mal­laig-Ar­madale ferry ser­vice.

While the group wel­comed last week’s an­nounce­ment that CalMac Fer­ries Ltd won the Clyde and He­brides Ferry Ser­vices con­tract, they ex­pressed con­cern that dis­rup­tions with the ferry ser­vice are now not only ef­fect­ing CalMac’s own cus­tomers, but the eco­nomic pros­per­ity of the com­mu­ni­ties that are de­pen­dent on the pop­u­lar ser­vice.

The de­ploy­ment of ves­sels which the group says are not fit for pur­pose and are a down­graded cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence has re­sulted in a ferry ser­vice that the fo­rum has de­scribed as a ‘sham­bles’.

The con­se­quence of this is now the pub­li­ca­tion of an emer­gency timetable of re­vised ser­vices ef­fec­tive from May 24 un­til Au­gust 31, where more than 50 op­er­at­ing days out of 99 are planned to have changes to times and sched­uled ves­sels.

The group have said: ‘ This is caus­ing a ma­jor loss of con­fi­dence in the route and at times a re­duc­tion in avail­able ve­hi­cle ca­pac­ity.

‘Coach travel has been se­verely af­fected by the dis­rup­tion and un­cer­tainty of ser­vice.’

De­spite ex­ten­sive dis­cus­sions with CalMac to seek an ur­gent res­o­lu­tion on the mat­ter, Sleat Fo­rum says no se­ri­ous al­ter­na­tive plan has yet been pre­sented by the com­pany.

An on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing for the im­me­di­ate re­turn of the MV Coruisk now has 1,658 sig­na­tures.

Sleat Trans­port Fo­rum said: ‘This fur­ther em­pha­sises the pub­lic con­cern for ser­vice cur­rently be­ing op­er­ated by CalMac.’

From the com­pany’s pub­lished statis­tics on­line there was a to­tal of 904 sched­uled sail­ings in April and May last year with just 14 can­cel­la­tions for that 61 day pe­riod.’

The group added: ‘This is clear ev­i­dence that the de­ploy­ment of ves­sels not fit for pur­pose has been the prin­ci­pal rea­son for the dis­rup­tion caused by tidal con­di­tions and is widely viewed in the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties as a dis­grace.’

Sleat Trans­port Fo­rum has re­newed calls for the re­turn of the MV Coruisk, which now serves the Mull route.

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