Highland councillors are seeking talks next week with the Scottish Government to push for a bridge to replace a lifeline ferry in Lochaber.
However all options for the Corran crossing remain open the chairman of the council’s community services committee said.
The cost of operating the Corran Ferry, which serves the remote communities of Ardgour, Morvern and Ardnamurchan, has been rising in the past few years, making it unsustainable for the council.
There is a £170,000 deficit between the running costs and the income from fares, despite a series of ticket price increases.
But Highland councillors agreed yesterday to defer consideration of any further above inflation increases until November when the impact of a 30p rise at the end of last year will be known.
Lochaber councillors warned that the remote residents could not be expected to keep paying higher and higher fares.
Councillor Brian Murphy said: “The situation is that the ferry at the moment is not sustainable for us as a council. But it is not sustainable going back to the community again and again demanding further fare increases.
“There is very real, rural deprivation in this area.”
He added that consideration must be given to a fixed crossing, adding that there could be a possibility of adding a tidal energy development underneath.
Committee chairman Councillor Graham Mackenzie said that he hoped to discuss the crossing with transport minister Keith Brown next week.
He said: “A bridge is not off the agenda,” but added that a list of potential options would be drawn up.
Councillor Thomas MacLennan, Lochaber, said: “I hope real progress can be made in talks with ministers about helping these communities, whether by way of a fixed link bridge, incorporating renewable energy sources, or some kind of subsidy for the ferry, giving a realistic fare that does not impinge on household budgets.”
Tony Boyd, chairman of campaigners FC Corran said the deferral would allow communities to “paint the true picture of life” for those families and business “crippled by the ferry fares”