Three SNP MSPs from the west coast will meet the new transport secretary today to discuss increasing disruption to island transport.
Ferries to the island communities have been described as both “unreliable and unavailable,” and are now having serious effects on delivery of food, healthcare provisions and other essential services.
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, Argyll and Bute MSP Jenni Minto, and Cunninghame North MSP Kenny Gibson will meet Graeme Day to discuss their concerns.
Mr Allan highlighted the need for immediate additional capacity for the Hebrides and Clyde ferries network.
‘Unreliability and unavailability of ferry services’ hitting economy
He said: “Island communities are beyond exasperation with the current ferry situation. The unreliability and unavailability of ferry services is having serious effects on the islands’ economy, construction projects, healthcare provision and food delivery.
“I will be raising these issues as a matter of urgency to the new minister for transport.”
Caledonian MacBrayne ferries have stopped taking bookings until June 8, and the loss of the fleet’s main vessel means that both tourists and islanders are having to take alternate ferries.
The expected increase in the number of tourists flocking to the islands through the summer season is expected to pose further problems.
With capacity on the ferries filling up, or already unavailable, the issue has started to impact flights too. Both essential and non-essential travel is becoming increasingly difficult as a result.
☎️ We are currently experiencing high call volumes. For bookings and enquiries, please refer to our website where possible: https://t.co/Ro5ETL7bYn. We appreciate your patience at this time⚠️ pic.twitter.com/6Xp6O4Bp9F
— CalMac Ferries (@CalMacFerries) May 22, 2021
Those trying to book transport have often been left in the dark. Mr Allan said: “What started over a month and a half ago with the loss of the fleet’s main vessel has spilled over onto nearly every other route, significantly reducing capacity across the region, not least in South Uist and Barra.”
Transport Scotland is considering what it should do next to address the problems.