New Campbeltown ferry pilot – a whale beached before it starts

The good news is the fun of this service looking like it may be CalMac’s first new route in 20 years – and that there is general recognition that Campbeltown is on the way up. The rest is simply unhinged.

The political purpose of the route is said to be to serve the Kintyre peninsula:

  • by bringing in increased visitor numbers
  • and by providing another transport link to residents in this remote peninsula.

This has been designed in consultation with the community – who seem only to have been thinking of developing  their own travelling lifestyles and not of the local economy.

The crucial opening season can only seriously deliver another transport link out of the peninsula for Kintyre residents.

That is not going to bring revenue in. It is going to assist more revenue to be taken out.

The service as scheduled:

  • Allows for a single day trip out of Campbeltown – on Fridays, to Ardrossan and onwards into Glasgow and back.
  • There are no inward day trips for visitors to taste Campbeltown before committing to a longer stay.
  • The shortest stay possible for someone who wants to see anything at all of the town, will require a visitor to pay for the cost of two nights in a B&B.
  • The one out of the six weekly services that calls at Arran, does so on Saturdays on the outward passage to Ardrossan,. This too is designed as an occasional lifestyle option for Kintyre residents and not to bring vital business to the town.

This service does little other than make it possible for residents to take their spending power out of the peninsula – a really smart business development strategy for the local economy?

Then there is the indefensible shortage of time between announcement and implementation. This is down to Transport Scotland. It’s ‘other people’s money’ syndrome. No one would make such a serious investment of their own money with so little advance preparation.

The 23rd May start date is declared to be designed to serve the Kintyre Songwriter’s Festival which will run in Campbeltown from May 24th to 26th May; and the 2013 MOKRun [Mull of Kintyre Run - a half marathon] and 10k race which will be taking  place on Sunday 26th May, from and around the town.

With five weeks to go, it is naive in the extreme to imagine that any marketing with a chance of giving the new service a measureable impact in support of these events can be put in place.

There is absolutely no business strategy for this service in evidence, never mind in place. If this is what the community wanted – any responsible government would have refused to give it to them. But, with the September 2014 vote coming up, this is a government in giveaway mode with public money – so the community has simply been given what it wants, like a child who doesn’t have to earn the money to pay for it.

This has all the hallmarks of the familiar political crash landing of opportunism.

The planned service is an indulgent lifestyle option and is not remotely  capable of delivering the economic development that will save Campbeltown. Small numbers of people will be able to ship out to shop for a day on Glasgow on Fridays – and that is the heart of the matter. Should the public purse – ever, never mind in these times – pay hugely for a big ship to enable an occasional jolly to Glasgow for a very small number of people?

Moreover, with check-in times, they will take no less time to get there by this route than they would on the present five returns a day Scottish Citylink coach service between Campbeltown and Glasgow -  and they will have to disembark and entrain at Ardrossan, part way through that journey.

This is a serious waste of public money. It can add little if anything to Campbeltown’s local economy; and it has no chance of surviving an expensive and misdirected three year pilot.

Check out the facts and the evidence below.

Timetable details

While fare prices are not yet known but are to be published very soon – more evidence of a service running to catch up with a unexpected political announcement – the timetable has been issued to all CalMac offices. This shows that the pilot will run a total of six single journeys a week, spread over four days from Thursday to Sunday, over the summer season.

Thursdays offer a single inward journey to Kintyre, leaving Ardrossan at 18.40 and arriving at Campbeltown at 21.20 – a 2hr 40m passage time.

Fridays offer a day return from Campbeltown to Ardrossan and back, with the outward journey leaving Campbeltown at 07.35 and arriving at Ardrossan at 10.15. A train leaves Ardrossan Harbour for Glasgow at 10.36, with one back at 16.50, arriving at Ardrossan Harbour at 17.36, in good time to check in for the 18.40 ferry departure back to Campbeltown for 21.20. [The return train fare will cost paying travellers from £8.30 to £12.80 on top of their ferry fare - to be announced.]

Saturdays offer a single outward journey from Kintyre, via the Isle of Arran to Ardrossan, leaving Campbeltown at 07.00, arriving at Brodick on Arran at 09.20, leaving Brodick 25 minutes later at  09.45 and arriving in Ardrossan at 10.40.

Sundays offer back-to-back single journeys from Ardrossan to Campbeltown and back, leaving Ardrossan at 13.50, arriving in Campbeltown at 16.30; with a 25 minute turn around, leaving Campbeltown at 16.55 and arriving in Ardrossan at 19.35.

The core issue

This timetable does not offer any affordable ‘taster’ visits to Campbeltown.

There is no achievable day return from Ardrossan. Worse there is no achievable return into Campbeltown that does not require paying for TWO nights B&B if you want to see anything of the town at all.

Here are the facts.

The Thursday service into Campbeltown does not arrive until 21.20. There will be little opportunity to explore the town beyond a night in a B&B before the next ferry back to Ardrossan at 07.35 the following morning – still without a chance to see the town. Otherwise, you have to spend two nights in a B&B, take the Friday in Campbeltown and catch the 07.00 ferry on Saturday, on the long way back to Ardrossan via Brodick in Arran – a 3 hr 40m passage time.

Few people will pay for two nights in a B&B unless they already know what sort of town they are heading for.

The Friday service offers a comfortably achievable day return – from Campbeltown to Ardrossan, with time in the Ayrshire town – and a more probable journey into Glasgow and back -  from arrival at Ardrossan at 10.15, to check in for departure before the boat leaves at 18 40 and a 21.20 arrival time back home.

In terms of a single overnight in Campbeltown, the Friday to Saturday service into Campbeltown offers the same obstruction as the Thursday to Friday one.

You get into Campbeltown at 21.20 on Friday night and you leave at 07.00 on Saturday morning – with no time to see and experience the town. Again you are forced either not to come at all or to pay for two nights B&B with a 16.55 departure time giving much of a second day in the town – but a Sunday, not the most visitor friendly day in most places. Is Campbeltown any different?

Saturdays offer a single outward journey from Campbeltown to Ardrossan via Brodick in Arran – meaning that the route does not offer visitors in Arran an easy passage to Kintyre; although the Ferries Plan will see the small ferry service out of Lochranza in the north of the island continuing to run to Kintyre – into Claonaig in the summer season and into Tarbert in the winter.

This Saturday service does offer Kintyre residents a trip to Arran, then making their way home at will via the separate Arran-Ardrossan ferry service and then back to Kintyre from the following day, with the outward Sunday service from Ardrossan leaving at 13.50 and arriving into Campbeltown at 16.30.

Sundays offer what are effectively two separate single journeys – from Ardrossan to Campbeltown and almost immediately from Campbeltown back to Ardrossan.

If you arrive in Campbeltown on a Sunday – at 16.30, you cannot get any ferry return to Ardrossan until the 07.35 out on the following Friday.

The focus of the service

This service has not been calibrated to bring business to Kintyre. It has been designed to act as a contribution to a improved transport service to residents of Kintyre – to get out of the peninsula.

This may well reflect the wishes of residents who would like more services – but it can hardly reflect the wishes of any intelligent businesses.

The economic development task is to recreate Campbeltown as a great place to visit, to spend time, to shop and with plenty to do – to bring revenue in,  not to send it out – to build an audience.

This service will best suit those on a driving holiday – but they can only get in to Campbeltown on three occasions a week, arriving late on Thursdays and Saturdays – at 21.20 in each case; and arriving late enough on a Sunday – at 16.30  – a day when the range of services available are not likely to be many or various.

Speaking personally, if I was new to Campbeltown and I was looking at a night in a B&B before I saw anything of where I was, I would not choose to arrive from Ardrossan on either Saturday or Sunday.

I’d not get there until 21.20 on Saturday, with a Sunday to come; or I’d arrive just in time on the Sunday to find very little to entertain me but enough time to decide to move on.

Would I choose to arrive on a Thursday night. Maybe – but a night time arrival is never much of a draw.

So the most use to the local economy will come from touring holiday makers – who, by nature of their holiday and the means to do it – keep moving.

Will the first season be the killer?

No one has brought a business development strategy to the introduction of this service.

Its late introduction – which will have been a political decision – or rather, not a decision, more of a handy opportunity – cripples the first of its three seasons.

There is no time to plan for it, to market it and to gear up ready to receive and exploit it. This means a slow start and a possibly weak first season’s performance

Any new service needs to hit the ground running. Initial impact may not be everything in a three year pilot – but it’s not much less than everything.

Yes, you can change a pilot for its second year – but you’re not even starting from base then. You’re starting from a negative, with a year of disappointment behind you and a loss of the momentum of hope, expectation and belief.

That is not a momentum Campbeltown can afford to lose.

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43 Responses to New Campbeltown ferry pilot – a whale beached before it starts

    • Perhaps not ‘published’ but you said elsewhere that it is confirmed, as per the draft. So that’s a bit of a cowardly response.

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  1. So Cllr Semple, the timetable isn’t published yet.

    And this new service starts in just over a month? Strange.

    However, since you were heavily involved in this and singing the praises of the SNP Govt and Council – can you tell us what the subsidy is for this indulgence?

    If you can’t give us the definitive figure can you at least let us know if the subsidy is more or less than the projected ‘saving’ arising from the same SNP Council’s decision to close the old folks home in Dunoon?

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  2. Pingback: New Calmac route to Campbeltown | Across The Minch

    • Campeltown really rewards a visit – and the cyclng is superb. This entire town should be listed to stop the council roughcasting over the lovely stone buildings. It is an astonishingly consistent grand Victorian merchant town, with a sense of its own substance, a spacious confidence and all sorts of hidden nooks, ulittle precincts – and palm trees.
      It is in the best shape of any of the Argyll towns – largely because, unlike poor Dunoon, the council – to date – has neglected it. This has left it pretty complete and, in its structure,layout and built heritage, it has endless potential. Many of its buildings are a delight.
      And Westport Beach [on the east side of the choke of the Mull of Kintyre] – a wonderful long strand with the historic sand dunes behind it – has great Atlantic surf rolling in from the west and a growing surfie culture supported by a specialist local surf shop.
      Its businesses need to bring its retail offer way up to speed – but not before they put a well found strategy together to guide that development; and it needs a couple more really good little cafes / bistros that don’t smell of damp or fried food.
      But it’s a cracking place and these needs can be filled, if the business community sets itself to put a first class act together.
      The market is there. Every time you’re in Campbletown, it’s full of traffic looking for somewhere to park [and it has lovely wide streets]. It has a monopoly as a retail centre that it has just thrown away. Most serious shopping is now done elesewhere. Why? Glasgow is a long haul and online has its limitations. We believe that the current situation can be reversed.
      If it consults and pays attention to the markets available and which are currently unserved; and if it develops an exciting provision with individual character, Campbeltown could comfortably become an alternative shopping focus to Glasgow for much of Mid Argyll as well as Kintyre. That possibility is there for the gaining – if they do it properly, with imagination and cutting no corners.

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  3. Newsroom – there never was any community campaign for this service. A cursory look at the Kintyre Forum will confirm this, for example here In it Councillor Semple exhorts people to campaign for such a service… the response is hardly overwhelming. There are other instances where the reactions of ordinary Kintyre folk were – at best – lukewarm.

    So suggesting it is an “indulgent lifestyle option” is wholly unfair. People just didn’t ask for this. In fact, many are commenting on the Forum now, and on Facebook, that the proposed service is disappointing.

    Also, with no information yet on fares either, many people are uncertain if they will ever use it. It can hardly cost less than other similar journeys, so a £70 car + driver fare must be on the cards. That is not an attractive price for people heading out of Kintyre.

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    • We have been assured that the timetable was the result of community consultation and is what the community wanted.
      Might this hsve been part of the consultation around the draft Ferries Review?
      Our own response to that document was a fairly horrified one on its lack of strategic thinking – which had been exchanged for a ‘tell us what you want’ methodology – suggesting that anything was possible?

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      • The first time any draft timetable was floated with the local community was when John Semple posted it on his Facebook page earlier this week, and asked people what they thought. It would be worth asking whoever told you about the ‘community consultation’:
        * what form it took
        * when it happened, and,
        * how many people expressed any views.

        And the less said about the Ferries Review the better, in my view….

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  4. Mairi – absolutely correct “Perhaps not ‘published’ but you said elsewhere that it is confirmed, as per the draft. So that’s a bit of a cowardly response”.

    This is what Cllr Semple trumpeted yesterday “I am satisfied that the timetable produced offers great opportunities for weekend summer travel options for locals and visitors alike”. So it looks as though there IS a timetable and it has been produced.

    But still no word from Cllr Semple on how much his vanity project is going to cost.

    The SNP priorities seem crazy – close an old folks home that the residents value and a couple of weeks later open and subsidise new ferry service for which there was no obvious demand with the driving force behind it seemingly being the SNP councillor himself.

    Vanity indeed.

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    • The timetable HAS definitely been published. It was freely available yesterday to all tourism buyers and stall holders at the SECC in Glasgow for the VisitScotland 2013 Expo, the national tourism industry sales exhibition. It was also issued to CalMac offices on Tuesday, which is why we got hold if it on Tuesday evening.

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      • That places John Semple’s opening gambit

        “Here’s The Facts – The timetable isn’t published yet !!!”

        firmly in the box marked “untruth”. His post was made on Wednesday 17 April.

        Perhaps he does this because he doesn’t have strong arguments, so he resorts to lies, bluster and deflection. It’s not good enough for an elected representative.

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  5. This project does have all the hallmarks of a councillor ‘vanity project’, as Simon suggests. What’s more, it singularly fails to learn two significant local lessons from the past:

    1 – Oban Airport
    2 – Campbeltown –Ballycastle Ferry

    Both these transport projects were undertaken at least partly to make political capital: By taking a legitimate need and then responding badly or inadequately but hoping – fingers crossed – that enough had been done to get the credit at the ballot box.

    Oban airport was developed largely at the behest of a single councillor. The Council as a whole agreed to significant investment at North Connell, Colonsay and Coll; found that there were major technical flaws with many aspects of the investment; financial black-holes that had not been foreseen – both budget over-runs and lack of income; regulatory challenges that were unknown to the planners. In total, it was a project that was incoherently planned and inadequately executed. The upshot is that the minimal services that do operate today do so at significant cost to the tax-payers of Argyll & Bute – £1 million per annum I recall hearing [but perhaps someone can confirm what the right figure is if that’s not accurate]. And the basic objectives – getting Colonsay and Coll pupils who lodge home at weekends – could have been fulfilled in different, much cheaper ways.

    Then the second – the Campbeltown-Ballycastle ferry that ran in 1997, 1998 and 1999. The smart assessment of this service was NOT that it failed because of any inherent lack of viability, but rather:

    a. Late announcement of the timetable in all years, meaning passengers couldn’t plan to use it and booked competitor services that were available well in advance;
    b. Variable operating seasons in every year;
    c. A timetable designed around operator convenience and logistics, rather than economic and commercial considerations;
    d. A chosen uncommitted operator that hadn’t wanted to do the route, and so deployed the allocated vessel to other purposes when it chose to;
    e. Poor or zero marketing – in all of the years – especially the first;
    f. The ‘pilot period’ of three years was too short – tour operators, maps and guidebooks are years in gestation, and a three-year period is too short-term for them to ever build the service into their products; and,
    g. Criteria for the economic appraisal were not set out at the start – so it was always going to be possible to say it ‘failed’ regardless of the economic benefits the service brought.

    This catalogue of errors could be applied – almost in its entirety – to this new Campbeltown-Ardrossan service.

    Now I happen to believe that the Councillor in question does have the best interests of Kintyre at heart…. true, he has other motivations, and I wouldn’t disagree with the speculation of others on this matter. But he must – seriously – consider that when you need a horse, and get given a hippo, you are worse off than if you have no livestock at all: you’re lumbered with something so unsuitable as to disadvantage you.

    The ‘let’s start with something and see if we can grow it’ approach is naive. And he should know that if he paid any attention to the litany of decision-making errors in these other projects.

    What grieves me is that the chances of Kintyre getting what it wants and needs are diminished on the back of this ill-conceived project. We saw that with the Irish ferry. History is a great teacher. If only the councillor had paid attention in that lesson.

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  6. surely this pilot scheme must enable daytrippers to visit the toon , perhaps the goverment would rather that arran had the monopoly on daytrippers ?? seams like a grand waste of OUR money , hopefully not .

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  7. Mairi stand for council you would be a great asset.
    With the SNP council in such a mess they will put anything forward to try and bail them out with a headline story but as you have rightly said about Oban,s International Airport good money going to waste.It,s nearly £1.5million a year and we had a grand return of £32,OOO you would need to be a magician to make them figures look good.
    Cheers Neil.

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    • Aww shucks – thanks for that compliment, Neil!

      Thanks too for the airport figures, too. I hadn’t realised the costs were £1.5 million a year. That can’t be sustainable and ought to serve as a salutary reminder to all who are tempted by such extravagances.

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    • The problem is not lack of ambition – it’s lack of people with common sense being in charge of implementing these ideas.

      This is a continual theme on the Clyde with ferries. It did not take a marine expert to know that the Kilcreggan service was fundamentally flawed and the contract should never have been awarded as it was – and it has been a catastrophic failure. the Dunoon route is the same – it’s a failure and eating up money. With common sense and politicians butting out, it would not take much to fix these routes, and I mean that sincerely.

      This Campbelltown route could make sense and benefit the communities, but it has been implemented so poorly, it’s just a waste of money.

      There are some common themes here – Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government.

      Why are they getting it so badly wrong? and why are they getting away with it? (and btw this is not anti-SNP, just anti-incompetent people in charge).

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      • Think you’ll find jammie that the Kilcreggan ferry is an SPT scew-up and nothing to do with either the SNP or the Scottish Government

        But don’t let the facts get in the way of your unashamedly british vitriol against the wrong party

        In fact the (LIEBOOR controlled) Inverclyde Council rep on SPT is a tory councillor and he thinks that ferry is wonderful and doing a great job – but alas that’s another fact that doesn’t support your puerile agenda

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  8. Graeme, and your ambition for the area?

    To castigate campaigners trying to defend old people from losing their home – what was it you said about them again ?? Oh yes ““The real barbarism is the uncertainty visited on the frail residents by the campaigners seeking to reverse the decision.”

    Most of us don’t take kindly to lectures from delusional muppets who deride those trying to protect old people from the incompetence of the SNP. The same SNP that will use our money to subsidise this project that nobody wants but will close an old folks home that people do want.

    You might not be aware of it but there is a difference between ambition and vanity.

    I see the SNP’s Cllr Semple has still not told us how much this ‘service’ will cost….

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  9. Simon’s right – we should be told what the taxpayer contribution is for this service. And whether it’s being paid by the Council or the Scottish Government, or a different public body.

    The other crucial questions to answer are:

    1. The service is seasonal, and starts this year on 23 May; what is the date of the last sailing this year?

    2. What are the proposed start and end dates for 2014?

    I recognise that detailed timetables cannot be agreed a year out, but surely there is an agreed ‘seasonal window’ for this service. Such an agreement would be necessary to be able to get approval on the level of subsidy being applied to this service. So someone somewhere must have the proposed seasonal sailing period.

    3. What assessment criteria have been set to judge whether it is successful?

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  10. There is a good sense of things happening for Campbeltown at last.

    It is up to us to push for more. We do have the capability.

    Have you seen the cost of the ferry to Arran? Plenty of visitors over there. Good marketing I reckon.

    Give us a chance guv.!

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  11. The real question is: why did the SNP Govt give a car/passenger ferry to Campbeltown that they never asked for but refused to give a car/passenger ferry to Dunoon where people have been crying out for one?

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    • The good folk of South Uist have also been crying out for an extra ferry service to Mallaig for years now. Every time they ask, they get told that there’s no boat available and that it would cost £40 million to get one.

      Suddenly Campbeltown gets one, and it’s the same boat that Transport Scotland said Lochboisdale couldn’t have. But then again, South Uist isn’t in Michael Russell’s constituency, is it?

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    • They did not refuse to give car/ferry passenger service to Dunoon – they took it away!

      They went back on a maniefesto committment to provide new vehicle ferries and then to cap it all they made an incompetent botch by putting in a totally and uttery unreliable passenger only service.

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  12. We’re all on our way to Abilene not Campbeltown. – The Abilene paradox is a paradox in which a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of any of the individuals in the group.It involves a common breakdown of group communication in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group’s and, therefore, does not raise objections. The theory is often used to help explain extremely poor business decisions, especially notions of the superiority of “rule by committee.” A technique is to ask that group “Are we going to Abilene?” to determine whether their decision is legitimately desired by the group’s members or merely a result of this kind of groupthink. In this blog people are asking uncomplicated straightforward questions and realizing that the running and time tabling of this ferry is simply a nonsense. The gist of which is that this ferry debacle will prove to be neither financial successful under any measure nor politically sound. There is something rotten in the core of our Government that permits this project to free fall through committees without asking a simple searching question. Are we going to Abilene?

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    • To the person who clicked “dislike”. Here are some further ideas I would put forward as to why the introduction of this ferry fits the Abilene concept.There appears to be groupthink – a rush to introduce this ferry service with defective decision making covering the following ( not necessarily in order):
      Incomplete survey of alternatives
      Incomplete survey of objectives
      Failure to examine risks of preferred choice
      Failure to reevaluate previously rejected alternatives
      Poor information search
      Selection bias in collecting information
      Failure to work out contingency plans
      I have yet to see a sound business case, this case of fait accompli imposed solution, is not what is needed in a modern democracy.

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  13. You keep believing your own publicity, John. Read selectively what you want to see. But this folly will catch up with you. And you’ve still not told us what public subsidy is being paid to secure this service.

    The truth is that any positive comments on the Courier Facebook page are being made by people who then immediately ask what the timetable is … so their ‘Likes’ are done in ignorance of just how limiting the sailing schedule is.

    And everyone wants to know the fares. CalMac still cannot confirm them, so let’s do some basic research – and generate some informed estimates by looking at other routes in the area.

    Ardrossan to Brodick
    Approximate nautical miles: 11.5
    Car plus driver return fare: £79.05

    Kennacraig to Port Ellen
    Approximate nautical miles: 29
    Car plus driver return fare: £74.60 [Fare reductions are available on some non-commercial, non-Clyde island sailings, hence it being lower than the Arran fare, despite being a longer route]

    Ardrossan to Campbeltown
    Approximate nautical miles: 36
    Car plus driver return fare: ???

    The Campbeltown route is more than three times longer than the Ardrossan-Brodick route. It’s also longer by around 25% than the Kennacraig-Port Ellen route. So I find it difficult to believe that the fares will be less than those for these two example routes. Meaning, it’s highly likely the return fare for a car and the driver will be in excess of £80 – and possibly significantly above that figure. An average car can do 500 miles on £80 of fuel. So it’s unlikely to make economic sense for most folk to use this ferry. Sure, the service could appeal to those for whom money and time are not a concern. But that’s not your average visitor or Kintyre resident.

    Perhaps you know something about the fares that you’re not sharing, John. Please let us know when you’re ready to share these fundamentally important details with the rest of us.

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  14. Oh c’mon Councillor Semple – you told us this is your baby and you are on here often enough – so why not tell us the cost/subsidy??

    What happened to all the openness and transparency the SNP trumpeted about?

    What do you have to hide?

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  15. The fare for the route has not been published and was not available at the SECC Tourism Expo yesterday, although the timetable was being distributed. We have no ETA on the publication of the fares.

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  16. It’s that “steamer syndrome” again. Car drivers need roads, bridges and tunnels. Ferries should only be temporary fixes while these routes are built and should be at the shortest safest crossings available.
    Gourock-tunnel-Cowal-new road incl. tunnel-Otter Ferry-bridge or tunnel-Port Ann and so on all over Scotland and the isles.
    It’s only work. They still do it in other countries, it’s time we started doing some again.

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  17. I find this correspondence almost as bizarre as the recent complaints about the excellent Islay ferry service.One would think that the Isle of Arran was being deployed SOLELY to provide three return journeys to Campbeltown each week when it actually is to become the second vessel for Ardrossan to Brodick and these journeys are merely an add-on , not the raison d’etre.
    It is foolish to speculate on how people may choose to use the route because it is a way of travelling to see an area not previously available -and may produce interesting sightings of marine wildlife in addition to a non-road journey.
    I thought Campbeltown had benefited from its access to ferries when the Islay route was disrupted to allow several relief movements of SSE staff and vehicles and other freight to Campbeltown during the severe weather of last month
    As a previous user of the Campbeltown-Ballycastle service in the 1990′s one must point out that this was all pre-internet and the new route is featured at the top of the Calmac webpage so ANYONE visiting the page will be made aware of it

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  18. Thanks for these details Jim.

    So the missing figure in my calculations above is £115. That’s the “Car plus driver return fare”.

    I’m not sure that will prove to be attractive to many people.

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  19. I live in Renfrewshire and use the Clyde Ferries a lot (with others)for day pleasure trips. We were looking forward to adding Campbeltown to our list of places to visit. With the timetable now out, we find that there’s no way we can broaden our horizons further. It is, as stated, designed to get people out of Kintyre rather than visitors into it. I’ve written to Transport Scotland, Cal Mac and Nicola Sturgeon about this, but I don’t imagine anyone will care enough to consider changing anything.

    Follow up to the above

    . I had a reply from Cal Mac saying they had no control over the timetable and that it was decided by Transport Scotland. So I wrote to them on 22 Aprii and have had neither an acknowledgement or reply. I emailed again on 30 April, but think I will be ignored once more. Par for the course, I suppose. .

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  20. We travel from Northern England to Oban and district 1 – 2 times a year (for about 15 years now) but have only been to Campbeltown once. When we first saw the new route we thought it would be good for us to discovering two new areas of Scotland – the Ayrshire region and South Argyllshire/ and Campbeltown. We love the ferries, use them a lot and this would be a new adventure!

    Then we read the published/not published??? timetable. Getting into Campbeltown at 2120 is too late to discover anything and we couldn’t afford to B&B en-route to our final destination. The Sunday time is better but with nothing open the late afternoon arrival is of little use to visitors or town traders I guess.

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  21. A ferry to Campbeltown? Nice idea, really terrible execution; how did they come up with such a daft timetable? Is it deliberately designed to lose money, or are they just incompetent? You be the judge.

    Given Transport Scotland’s handling of the Dunoon-Gourock ferry and SPT’s handling of the Kilcreggan-Gourock, none of this surprises me sadly.

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