Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan yesterday [Thursday 30 May] met with the Scottish Government Minister with responsibility for ferries, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, and representatives from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to discuss capacity issues with ferries serving the Western Isles.
Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“This was a useful meeting and I am grateful for the opportunity to raise the concerns of many of my constituents as we begin to experience pressures on ferry services that are more akin to what you would expect for the height of the tourist season than for May.
“Ferries to the Western Isles now have to deal with an incredible 184,000 additional passengers a year compared to a decade ago. This has obviously been of enormous economic benefit and is a great tribute to the work that the tourist industry and others have done in making the Western Isles a must-visit destination for a diverse range of tourists.
“However, it is islanders who most often have to deal with the problems that come with a lack of spare capacity, as they find themselves unable to get onto the ferries at short notice. In the case of Stornoway –Ullapool sailings this weekend, notice of nearly a week was not enough to get booked on.
“I think the time has come to examine whether some deck space can be held in reserve for islanders who need to get away at short notice, and this was an idea I raised yesterday. I also asked about an additional sailing a day on the Sounds of Harris and Barra, as well as other measures.
“Ultimately, everyone agrees that more capacity is needed on all island ferry routes in summer, and I continue to make the case for this to both CalMac and Ministers.”