McArthur again challenges Frist Minister over RET

Liam McArthur MSP today reiterated calls to the First Minister to confirm the date for introducing cheaper ferry fares on Northern Isles routes.

As Orcadian will be aware, following much campaigning from Liberal Democrats representatives in the Northern Isles, the Transport Minister announced last August that the Scottish Government would introduce cheaper ferry fares in the “first half of 2018”. However, with the half way point of 2017 only a mere 9 days away, we are still none the wiser for a start date. This is particularly concerning for the tourist sector, who will potentially miss out over this unnecessary delay.

At First Minister’s Question time  today, Mr McArthur challenged Nicola Sturgeon that: “On the eve of the Easter recess, I asked the First Minister when people in Orkney and Shetland could expect to see the benefits of road equivalent tariff on northern isles ferry routes. She was unable to answer the question”

He asked the Frist Minister that “with still no confirmation of a start date, can the First Minister assure my constituents that RET will be introduced on our lifeline routes, as promised, before the end of the first half of 2018?”

In reply, Ms Sturgeon gave no commitment to a start date and merely trotted out the same line as before, that Humza Yousaf MSP is responsible for this matter and will update Parliament in due course.

After the exchange, Mr McArthur said:

“It’s now ten years since this SNP government first introduced cheaper ferry fares on west coast routes. Despite budgetary promises at the start of the year, we are no closer to having RET on northern isles ferry routes.

“Thanks for the Scottish Government failing to make clear when fares will be reduced, people are holding off making bookings which is a devastating blow to the local tourist sector, which is vital to the Orkney economy.

“That is why I pressed the First Minister today again to ensure that a formal start date for the reduced fares is confirmed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Nicola Sturgeon refused to give such an committal, claiming that this was work in progress for the Transport Minister. We have been hearing this same, worn out line being used for too long. This simply is not good enough. Orcadians need clarity. Tourists need clarity.

“The Transport Minister said this would be introduced in the first half of 2018. The first six months of the year have only 9 days left. What we all need to see these cheaper fares, promised for so long, introduced now.


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