Urgent call to meet MSP over ferry row
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.