Local MSP, Labour’s Jackie Baillie, met with the new Chair of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) last week, to discuss the on-going saga with the Gourock-Kilcreggan ferry service.
Councillor George Redmond met with Ms Baillie and Greenock and Inverclyde MSP, Duncan McNeil, at the City Chambers in Glasgow on Friday. The two Labour MSPs outlined their concerns over the current service, since Clydelink was awarded the tender on 1st April 2012.
Jackie Baillie notes that, since taking over the lifeline route, Clydelink has cancelled the service on numerous occasions – often at short notice and has also been the subject of an investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
In May, Clydelink also announced that a temporary vessel would be used on the service, to allow the 16-year-old Island Princess to be sent for maintenance work. Jackie Baillies points to the fact that over 100 days have passed since the announcement first hit the headlines – and no back-up vessel has been seen on the route during that time.
This is just the latest in a long line of public dissatisfactions since Clydelink, which operates the service on behalf of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, took over in April.
Ms Baillie is also concerned about the future viability of the route given the recent report of a drop in passenger numbers. She says:
‘Duncan McNeil and I had a very positive meeting with Councillor Redmond last week and he agreed to consider our concerns about the Kilcreggan to Gourock Ferry.
‘It is clear that SPT have failed to intervene in the on-going saga with Clydelink and have failed to take control of the situation.
‘Clydelink may have been the cheapest option but they are failing to provide a reliable service for their customers.
‘In May we were told a replacement vessel for the Island Princess was imminent – yet we had to wait five months before this happened.
‘Clydelink also allowed their skipper and crew to sail the route without the proper safety certification.
‘Councillor Redmond is keen to ensure that passenger concerns are addressed and that we have a service that we can rely on.’