Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has again pressed the Transport Minister to outline detailed plans for introducing cheaper ferry fares on routes serving the Northern Isles.
Following a successful campaign to force the Scottish Government to include Orkney and Shetland within the Road Equivalent Tariff scheme, albeit a decade after the scheme was first introduced on west coast ferry routes, there is still no clarity about when and how the cheaper fares will be applied. Mr McArthur highlighted the problems being created by the continued uncertainty, particularly for Orkney’s vital tourism sector.
In a letter to Mr McArthur last month, the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP said a specific timetable for introduction would be made available “as soon as is practical”. On the back of this, Orkney’s MSP asked Mr Yousaf at General Questions today for an update on progress and when he felt he would be able to confirm the implementation date.
In response, Mr Yousaf recognised that the need for clarity was “hugely important” and that he was “very confident” the commitment for lower fares will be delivered before the end of June.
Following the exchange, Mr McArthur commented:
“With tourists starting to arrive in ever greater numbers, the need for detail on when and how the new cheaper ferry fares will apply is becoming increasingly urgent. While the Minister has been clear that anyone who has made a booking that falls after the introduction date will be reimbursed, this is far from an ideal situation. The sooner we have clarity the better.
“People in Orkney and Shetland have waited long enough to see the same cheaper fares that have been enjoyed on west coast routes for years. Until the Scottish Government delivers on its promises, I will continue to keep up the pressure on Mr Yousaf”.