SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed today’s launch of CalMac’s public consultation on its Route Prioritisation Framework.

Following the repeated removal of MV Lord of the Isles earlier this year from her Lochboisdale-Mallaig route to cover for vessel shortages elsewhere on the network, the islands’ MSP was vocal in pushing for a review of the matrix by which CalMac make decisions on which routes to prioritise when there is significant disruption.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Mairi McAllan, confirmed in June that she had instructed CalMac to undertake a review of the present system, in consultation with communities, to take a wider range of factors into account (including an island’s economic fragility, and how often it has previously been impacted).

Commenting, Alasdair Allan said:

“The launch of this public consultation is a very positive step in ensuring greater equity for islanders and in making sure that the same communities are not penalised again and again. This review will not, of course, not fix the primary issue, namely the shortage of vessels across the network.

“However, while we await several new vessels under construction, I believe a thorough review of CalMac’s Route Prioritisation Framework will help ensure that communities like South Uist are never again forced to endure months on end of no, or barely any, ferry service whatsoever, as we saw earlier this year.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to submit their views to the consultation before it closes on the 24th September, and I hope that real, lasting changes will come from this long-awaited framework review.”

The proposals being consulted on by CalMac, drawn up in collaboration with Transport Scotland and the Ferries Community Board, include: 

  • Placing more importance on island residents and commercial vehicles.
  • Giving more priority to routes which have experienced higher levels of disruption and cancellations.
  • Aiming to limit the disruption duration on any single route to around one week at a time.
  • Distributing available vessels across multiple routes to minimise the impact on individual communities.

The consultation and further info can be accessed here: The consultation will be open until midnight on 24 September 2023. 


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