[15th March: Updated below with Western Ferries' comparative fares] In a ‘good news’ announcement, Gordon Ross, Managing Director of Western Ferries, has earlier today announced that from 25th March, in eleven days time, the company is increasing its early morning sailings from Monday to Friday, with the three vessel service running from 7.00am in the morning.
The consequent changes to the schedule are as follows:
- Monday to Friday: there will be 7.00am, 7.20am and 7.40am departures from Hunter’s Quay – compared with the present 7.00am and 7.30am.
- Monday to Friday: there will be 7.30am, 7.50am and 8.10am departures from McInroy’s Point, compared with the present 7.30am and 8.00am sailings.
- Monday to Thursday: the three vessel service will then continue through to 6.00pm.
- Friday: the four vessel service will operate as usual on Fridays.
- Saturday: the four vessel service will start from 10.00am.
The increased frequencies, signalling changes in the demand pattern on the Western Ferries service demonstrate the company’s flexibility in responding to that need.
Around a week after the introduction of the increased sailings, on 1st April 2013, Western will introduce a rise in fares, generally in line with inflation.
However, Western have also confirmed that there will be no fare increase for those travelling under the SPT Ferry Concessionary scheme.
Fares under this scheme are being held at the current rate, despite SPT reducing the amount of compensation it pays to the operators.
Western Ferries is the only ferry operator to waive the 90p single and the £1.30 return fare payable by SPT card holders. This gesture allows those with concessionary cards to continue to take advantage of of free passage on the Western route as foot or car passengers.
Customers with a National Entitlement Card for the blind or partially sighted will also be able to travel free as a passenger on Western.
On making the announcement, Gordon Ross said: ‘These additional early morning sailings have been introduced to reflect a change in our commuters’ preferences, as it would seem that they now want to leave Dunoon slightly earlier than they did before.
This additional morning capacity will be further augmented in late August following the arrival of the new vessels. Their construction is progressing well and they should both be in service before the Cowal Games weekend.
‘They will be faster and larger than the vessels they are replacing, thereby ensuring that Western Ferries’ service will continue to provide the capacity required to satisfy all the needs of the community.
‘These vessels will have modern passenger accommodation designed to provide easy access and facilities for disabled passengers. Once they are in service all four of the Company’s vessels will have disabled toilet provision.
‘In relation to fares, Western Ferries is pleased that despite the increased costs associated with providing its service, fare increases have been kept roughly in line with inflation, therefore continuing its policy of minimising fare increases.
‘In fact, notwithstanding this increase, our passenger fares still represent the cheapest travel option for car and foot passengers. Western Ferries’ is also very proud to continue its policy of providing free travel to those with SPT concessionary cards.
‘Lastly, Western Ferries’ timetable improvements, fare levels, free SPT travel and the investment in new vessels are all being delivered without any direct subsidy payments from the Scottish Government.’
Western Ferries continues to be an exemplary operation, demonstrating what good management and a genuine care for service can achieve in the private sector.