McArthur calls for free ferry travel scheme to include routes serving Orkney’s smaller isles

2 Nov 2023
Liam McArthur on a ferry

Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur today called on the First Minister to ensure young people travelling between the smaller isles and Orkney mainland are included in the forthcoming extension of the government’s concessionary travel scheme.

The call follows a recent announcement that the Scottish Government plans to extend the current free bus travel scheme for under-22s to cover a small number of ferry journeys as well.

During First Minister’s Questions today, Mr McArthur noted that ferries between the smaller isles and the Orkney mainland play much the same role as buses do elsewhere in Scotland. Mr McArthur asked the First Minister to confirm that young islanders relying on these lifeline routes would be included in any future free ferry fares scheme.

In response, Humza Yousaf said that he would give “serious consideration” to the “important and crucial point” Mr McArthur raised.

Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:

“What buses are to young people elsewhere in Scotland, ferries are to those living in the smaller isles in Orkney. Yet too often the needs of those reliant on these lifeline links are overlooked when it comes to the government’s transport policy.

“The extension of the ferry vouchers scheme to under-22s is welcome. Having accepted the principle, however, the First Minister must now ensure it applies fairly across the board, including for young people living in our smaller island communities.

“I am glad the First Minister accepts this as an important and crucial point, and that he plans to give the idea serious consideration. On the back of that response, I have now written to the Transport Minister seeking confirmation that Orkney’s lifeline internal routes will be covered by any extension of the free travel scheme for young people.”

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