A deal has been signed between ferry operator CalMac and Fort William based Sheil buses to provide onward links for foot passengers using the new Lochboisdale to Mallaig service.
The bus company has altered the time of the morning Mallaig to Fort William service so that this now meets the vessel arriving from Lochboisdale. A brand new service will also leave Fort William in time to meet the afternoon sailing back to Lochboisdale.
Drew Collier, CalMac operations director, said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to come to a agreement with Highland Council and Shiel Buses to provide public transport links to meet this new service.
“This new service will allow foot passengers from the Uists to get to Fort William and back on the same day for the first time, significantly improving the island’s connectivity for both social and business purposes.”
Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil had been contacted by several constituents regarding the lack of scheduled connections from Mallaig to Fort William and beyond with the start of the summer ferry timetable.
From this week the ferry arrives in Mallaig less than half an hour after the train for Fort William has departed, with the next scheduled service not running until late afternoon.
Mr MacNeil raised the issue with CalMac several weeks ago and has been kept informed of ongoing negotiations and is very pleased that a bus service will now be provided.
He said: “I am very pleased that CalMac have worked with Highland Council and Shiel Buses to provide an onward travel option for foot passengers on the Lochboisdale-Mallaig ferry service.
“This is a common sense solution to a situation which could have meant less passengers using the service due to the logistics of onward travel being very difficult. I am pleased that CalMac have listened to representations from Hitrans and others on this matter and come up with a positive solution.
“I was involved in initial negotiations with Shiel Buses in 2013 to ensure a connecting service was available when the Lochboisdale-Mallaig service was introduced. I am very glad to see CalMac continuing this joint working with Shiel Buses who have been supportive of the ferry route from the outset.”