Buteman leads on local anger at CalMac crew cars left on ferry deny room for customer cars

Yesterday’s Buteman online led with the story of local anger at a repeat of an apparently familiar outrage with ferry operator, CalMac.

Local residents were evidently refused access to a full car deck when thee cars belonging to CalMac crew members were on board – and stayed on board when the ferry tuned around for the return journey.

17th February that she had been on that morning’s 8.35am sailing from Rothesay but saw that a number of vehicles couldn’t be boarded as the vessel was full. She noted three employees’ cars on deck – and that they were still there on the return journey back to Bute.

This looks like crew simply free parking their vehicles on their mobile place of work for the day.

CalMac have apologised. saying: ‘It is our policy that staff cars should not be shipped when space on the vessel is tight.’

Were the CHFS tender a genuine competition, as, on evidences For Argyll has serially published, it patently is not, the timing of this issue would have been unfortunate for CalMac.

It calls into question the issue of public sector carelessness with public money and with customer service.

A private sector operator [like Serco, CalMac’s titular competitor for the west coast ferry services contract] would never contemplate losing earnings with crew cars blocking sellable space; and would be sharply aware that prioritising customer service is what grows the business.

A public sector monopoly always – always – breeds a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude to customers which is sometimes manifest in corporate perspectives and sometimes in staff behaviours.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Letter to HMRC to ask if the crew members are declaring the free passage / parking on the ferry for their cars on their tax return?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

    Lundavra February 26, 2016 2:43 pm Reply
  • A public ferry service operating not so much as a job creation scheme as a jobsworths’ charter.
    Trying to think of an explanation (excuse), I wonder if this situation has arisen because the Rothesay route’s been diverted to Gourock, with Wemyss Bay based crew having to drive up the coast to work and for some reason not parking their cars at the ferry terminal? If so, it would be under the noses of Calmac / CMAL management in their Gourock headquarters. I wonder where they park their cars?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

    Robert Wakeham February 26, 2016 3:00 pm Reply
  • If this is indeed a regular thing then someone very senior ought to have a sharp word with the local management. I would be cautious in thinking, however, that the abuse of a monopoly is confined to publicly-owned operations. Any look at history suggests otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

    Arthur Blue February 26, 2016 5:19 pm Reply
  • I see the Lochboisdale to Mallaig services were cancelled again today, due to weather. This service has been off more often than on since New Year and makes me wonder what happens to the passengers and vehicles that will be left stranded. Do they just wait for the next one on Saturday?
    I can see that there is a strong wind forecast for this afternoon and evening but this morning has been pretty good going with the reports from vessels and lighthouses in the area.
    Could they not have sent the first sailing and then made an assessment of the forecast conditions to get the return leg in before the weather deteriorated. It looks like they don’t want to risk having the vessel in the wrong position so that it will impact on the inward sailing to Oban the following morning.
    The South Uist folk must be getting a bit fed up with their shoddy service from Calmac so far this year, being forced to travel via Oban and Castlebay, on the ferry for an nine hour stint instead of the short run to Mallaig.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Murdoch MacKenzie March 1, 2016 11:32 am Reply
  • Murdoch – I agree with the main emphasis of your comment, that the LOTI seems to be scared of sailing the Mallaig – Lochboisdale route these days. However, Lochboisdale to Oban (via Castlebay) hasn’t been a 9 hour journey for many, many years. The average timing is 7 hours or less. I’m really not sure what the issues have been this winter on that route but the LOTI’s performance was also poor last year. I’m no Mariner but believe it is possibly due to Mallaig harbour approach rather than at sea conditions? Calmac management must be tearing their hair out as this level of performance isn’t tender winning performance…..As for the Uist folk, they have a choice of services whereas most other islands don’t. They demanded the return of the Mallaig service in winter and now summer. I bet they are regretting it a little now. The bottom line is that the fleet is getting older, weather conditions a bit worse and the travelling public less patient. Our expectations have changed and possibly that’s a good thing however, there are a reasonable number of islanders who weren’t born or brought up in the islands (many SE England) and can’t accept any service interruption. As my mother says, it’s a fact of living in the islands and you just have to accept it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    Michael Dowds March 2, 2016 1:34 pm Reply
    • Hi Michael, You’re right about the Lord of the Isles only taking 7 hours from Lochboisdale pier to Oban pier via Castlebay but they have to check in and then get off at the other end so probably around 8 hours would be expected. That’s a long time to be in transit.
      I don’t know why this service is always cancelled. This issue has run for a few years now,
      When Mr McKay the Minister was holding his back slapping meeting in Stornoway after they sorted out the debacle there, Councillor MacKinnon, who had spoken out in the linked article above the year before, lambasted the Minister for the woeful performance of the Mallaig Pilot trial.
      If there is a problem getting into Mallaig you would think that Calmac would have made a statement of some kind, considering the bad feelings their lack of service is causing.
      The problem with the present service to me is that the vessel is Oban based and all decisions are made with their eye on getting it back to Oban as soon as possible. Hopefully, when she is based in Mallaig things will improve.
      If things do not improve South Uist needs to look at a ferry to Skye as a better option, from Loch Skipport to Loch Bracadale or Loch Harport. This could be backed up by better route improvements on the A87 to the Skye Bridge and a future tunnelled link to the A9 dual carriageway. The present transport links are very inadequate and incomplete.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Murdoch MacKenzie March 2, 2016 2:51 pm Reply

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