Call made for RET ferry fares for is­lands of Jura and Lu­ing

The Oban Times - - News - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

AN ARGYLL and Bute coun­cil­lor has called for a RET dis­count for lo­cals and trav­ellers on the Jura and Lu­ing fer­ries, in line with other West Coast is­lands which have seen boosted vis­i­tor num­bers.

CalMac in­tro­duced the RET, stand­ing for ‘road equiv­a­lent tar­iff’, to all its ferry tick­ets in Oc­to­ber 2015 to make is­land travel cheaper and more af­ford­able, cut­ting prices by more than £40 on some jour­neys.

The RET bases ferry fares on the cost of trav­el­ling the equiv­a­lent dis­tance by road. CalMac ex­plains: ‘The RET for­mula for cal­cu­lat­ing fares is a com­bi­na­tion of a fixed el­e­ment (to cover fixed costs) and a rate per mile.’

Now Kin­tyre and the Is­lands coun­cil­lor Robin Cur­rie has called for Argyll and Bute Coun­cil to con­sider in­tro­duc­ing the RET to its two-ve­hi­cle ferry ser­vices to Jura and Lu­ing. He said: ‘Jura and Lu­ing are the only two is­lands that the coun­cil has ve­hi­cle fer­ries for, and they are the only two is­lands that do not have RET.

‘All the is­lands have ben­e­fited by the in­crease in traf­fic. When you look at Mull, it has been a dras­tic change: there is a big, big sav­ing. It would make a huge dif­fer­ence to peo­ple on Jura. It’s a re­ally busy ferry. If the fares were cheaper, there would be more peo­ple us­ing it, and more in­come. It would be good for the is­land.

‘A dis­count scheme for lo­cals would be a rea­son­able re­quest. It seems to me there will not be an in­crease to the coun­cil, but that is what the of­fi­cers will look at. We do not want to bring in RET if it will be more ex­pen­sive.’

Argyll and Bute Coun­cil re­sponded: ‘ The RET is a Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive which re­duces the cost of ferry travel for some peo­ple on ma­jor routes. The RET for­mula, we un­der­stand, does not en­sure dis­counts on shorter cross­ings, so if we were to ap­ply it to our short-jour­ney fer­ries, it would not nec­es­sar­ily make the jour­ney any cheaper.

‘In fact, with the multi-jour­ney tick­ets we pro­vide, peo­ple can se­cure large dis­counts by buy­ing books of tick­ets. For ex­am­ple, the 50 ticket book­let for car and driver on the Jura ferry gives a sav­ing of over 40 per cent.’

Argyll and Bute Coun­cil says it has no plans to be­gin RET fares on the Bel­nahua ferry to Lu­ing.

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