No rise in Cor­ran Ferry pas­sen­ger fares this year

The Oban Times - - News - MON­ICA GIB­SON mgib­son@oban­

COR­RAN FERRY pas­sen­ger fares will not go up this year.

De­spite con­cerns peo­ple want­ing to cross Loch Linnhe from Nether Lochaber to Ard­gour could be charged an ad­di­tional 10 per cent on the ‘al­ready crim­i­nal’ £ 8.20, the High­land Coun­cil (HC) last week re­vealed the fare will stay as it is – for the time be­ing.

In a state­ment, HC bud­get leader Bill Fernie con­firmed: ‘ We will not in­crease the charges for ex­ist­ing car parks or the Cor­ran Ferry this year.’

The in­for­ma­tion was part of an an­nounce­ment re­gard­ing a deal agreed by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to re­duce the gap in the High­land Coun­cil’s bud­get from £26 mil­lion to £20 mil­lion.

While the news was wel­comed by some, the lo­cal coun­cil­lor said it came as a bit of a sur­prise.

Coun­cil­lor An­drew Bax­ter, who rep­re­sents Fort Wil­liam and Ard­na­mur­chan, told The

Oban Times: ‘Even when I met with fi­nance of­fi­cials just prior to the coun­cil meet­ing there was talk of a min­i­mum of a five per cent in­crease so, yes, I was not ex­pect­ing this.’

Mr Bax­ter says the coun­cil sees the Cor­ran Ferry as a cash cow and added: ‘I will con­tinue cam­paign­ing for a fair deal for lo­cal res­i­dents that avoids yearon-year fare in­creases.’

In the build up to the an­nounce­ment, The Oban Times had been con­tacted by read­ers who be­lieve Morvern and Ard­na­mur­chan res­i­dents are pe­nalised be­cause the ferry is run by the High­land Coun­cil and does not com­ply for Road Equiv­a­lent Tar­iff (RET).

RET was in­tro­duced on all CalMac ferry tick­ets in Oc­to­ber 2015 to make is­land travel cheaper and more af­ford­able, cut­ting prices by more than £40 on some jour­neys.

Cur­rently pas­sen­gers who buy mul­ti­ple tick­ets for the Cor­ran Ferry at one time ben­e­fit from lower prices. Such dis­counts would not be al­lowed un­der the RET scheme, but Mr Bax­ter says that does not mean the op­tion should be ruled out. He said: ‘The Cor­ran Ferry is unique. The cross­ing is re­ally an ex­ten­sion of the road net­work. If we are go­ing to look at RET mov­ing for­ward we need to ask the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to change the ex­ist­ing rules.’

How­ever, there are some who be­lieve busi­nesses do ben­e­fit from the ex­pense of the ferry cross­ing.

Alis­tair Ma­cLean from Stron­tian Stores said: ‘I have to say I can do well from vis­i­tors look­ing at wines and spir­its, and in­stead of get­ting the ferry and over to town they will come to me – it makes us even more com­pet­i­tive.’

Chrissie Mor­gan, who owns Blue­bell Croft, says her and her part­ner try to save up er­rands and buy a book of tick­ets. She says only a hand­ful of guests have com­plained about the price of the ferry but when it comes to shop­ping she will more of­ten than not buy on­line.

She added: ‘We are not los­ing busi­ness at the mo­ment but if the fare was to con­tinue to go up then maybe that would be the case.

‘ We def­i­nitely take it into con­sid­er­a­tion when buy­ing things – we will choose places which of­fer free de­liv­ery or we will in­crease our or­der to qual­ify for free de­liv­ery rather than pay need­lessly.

‘Luck­ily for us, most of our guests come and stay on the penin­sula and chill out.’

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