Analysis of Gourock-Dunoon ferry services confirms imperative for change

MVA Consultants were hired in 2012 by the Scottish Government to report on the feasibility of a second vehicle and passenger ferry service between Dunoon and Gourock – running the 50% longer and more expensive route between the two town centres, with the vehicle service operated at commercial risk and a state subsidy on the passenger element.

While the conclusion of the study is the clearest example we have seen of ‘result for hire’ reporting, it contains a table [Table 5.1] marrying published carryings data alongside estimated data which, while being largely educated guesswork, is a respectable and useful effort. [MVA GD Study Carryings Table 5.1]

This looks at the relative carryings on the two vehicle and passenger ferry services on this route in 2010-11, the year before the town centres route now operated by Argyll Ferries  was reshaped as a state subsidised passenger service alone.

Using figures available from this table and adding in figures from the recently released Scottish Transport Statistics for 2013-14, a clear picture emerges of the direction of travel of the route – in progressive decline.

The state subsidy paid on the passenger-only service runs at around £10 per head per passage – or, in 2013-14’s passenger carrying figures of 299,200, about £3 million a year. Against a route whose decline in usage demonstrates Argyll and Bute’s failing economy – the case for a single multi-purpose private sector service is close to unanswerable.

The latest published figures, for 2013-14, roughly indicate 819 passengers carried per day, on a service providing 58 crossings a day – which is a rough average of 12 passengers per crossing – on a two boat service.

And the Scottish Government is talking about new tonnage for this service?

The performance facts, figures and analyses below could hardly demonstrate more clearly that there is no economic, social or needs argument that can defend the retention of the state subsided passenger service.

The Scottish economy itself is looking very different as the North Sea oil industry struggles with the glut-producing supply-war between OPEC and the USA – and the consequent cliff-fall in the barrell price of Brent crude.

This, and the coming straitened circumstances of public funding makes the opportunity cost of the state subsidy for the demonstrably unnecessary Gourock-Dunoon passenger service route, a matter for serious interrogation.

Before the move to a passenger only town centres service

In 2010 the operator of the town centres route was Cowal Ferries, like Argyll Ferries a member of the state owned David MacBrayne Limited group. The vehicle carrying element was unsubsidised, the passenger service subsidised. There were heated debates about the accounting practices employed, with the two services on the same vessel.

It was shown that that state subsidy for the passenger service was being treated for accounting purposes in a manner resulting in an illegal subsidy finding its way to the vehicle carrying service. This saw the uncompetitive vehicle service on the longer town centres route dropped in the retendering of the service in 2011.

The private sector operator, Western Ferries, ran [and runs] a very successful and wholly commercial-risk vehicle and passenger on the shorter route between the outskirts of the two towns. It owns both of its own linkspans and so does not have to pay passenger and berthing fees to any other company.

However, Western is not a stripped-out profit-taker. As infrastructure owner and operator, it has overarching responsibilities to its staff and maintains their facilities in Hunter’s Quay, McInroy’s Point and Kilmun.  Hunter’s Quay and McInroy’s Point were given a £4m upgrading in 2007.

In contrast, the state-owned Argyll Ferries passenger service owns neither of its berthing terminals, incurring passenger and berthing fees to two different external bodies [CMAL at Gourock and Argyll and Bute Council at Dunoon]. Any other operator offering a town centres route either as a passenger only [subsidised] or passenger and vehicle [commercial risk] service would also have these charges to pay.

The figures given in Table 5.1 for 2010-11 in MVA’s Feasibility Study show Western Ferries carrying  by far the greatest number of passengers  [1,313,800 to Cowal Ferries’ 499,228]. This commanding lead was driven both by Western carrying very much larger numbers of buses and commercial vehicles 33,000, themselves transporting passengers in drive on-drive off services; and by carrying 564,000 cars where as Cowal Ferries carried 3,462 commercial vehicles  and 61,400 cars. Drivers and other car passengers count as passengers because, in each case, they are charged a separate fare.

Cowal Ferries, however, carried the greatest number of pure foot passengers – the walk-on walk-off variety – by 64% to 36% [378,599 to 210,062]. Updating this table to reflect 2013 carryings, and using MVA’s formula, this shows that Argyll Ferries still has the greatest number of foot passengers but the share has moved to 59% to 41% [299,000 to 210,000]. If this trend was to continue to the end of the current tender, Western Ferries could actually be carrying more foot passengers.

Both of these specialisms are understandable.

Western’s outskirts route between Hunter’s Quay [Dunoon] and McInroys Point [Gourock] is much more convenient for vehicles. Western had and has a role in carrying McGill’s buses. This service offers a stay-on-the-bus sheltered passenger service via Western Ferries, direct from Dunoon to the door to the ticket office at the Gourock rail head – and a much shorter walk to the trains than for walk-on Cowal Ferries/Argyll Ferries passengers disembarking at the Gourock linkspan.

Walk-on passengers not using the McGill’s direct passenger service are best suited to the town centres ferry route, although the figures cited below show a rapid decline in the use of the pure walk-on service.

This pattern of usage was the driver of the conversion of the state-provided service to a passenger-only one in 2011, once the Scottish election was well out of the way.

Performance of the passenger only service

Drilling down into the statistics shows a detailed picture of shifting audiences – as well as showing that in 2008, the year of the shocking collapse of the financial institutions, virtually all ferry carryings in Scotland fell – a snapshot of the economic impact of the year when so much began to unravel.

With Scotland’s increasingly ageing population and the loss of people of working age to outward migration from the west coast, ferry carryings have been in general progressive decline for some time.

This has been the continuing case with the state subsidised Gourock-Dunoon town centres passenger service, which has shown falling carryings year on year since its inception in 2011.

In its first year, 2011-12, Argyll Ferries was down 90,028 passengers [18%] on Cowal Ferries’ passenger carryings the year before – but that figure does not allow for the ferry passengers who were drivers and car passengers using the Cowal Ferries vehicle service – which Argyll Ferries as a passenger only service, could not have been expected to retain.

However, starting from its own end-of-year one carryings, this service has continued to show substantially falling usage.

In its second year, 2012-13 it lost 67,900 passengers [16.6%]; and in its third, 2013-14 it lost another 42,100 passengers [12.3%].

The still significant but falling rate of percentage decline would indicate a progressive cutting away to a hard core usage of the town centres route passenger service. There are likely to be several reasons for this decline, for example the local impact of general economic stagnation, a switch to Western Ferries or a switch to McGills’ bus service and what can only be called a spiteful and irrational campaign against Argyll Ferries by the local ferry action group.

One thing is that obvious is that the increased frequency provided by Argyll Ferries since the 2011 tender, as compared to the service provided by Cowal Ferries before the 2011 tender, has not generated a switch away from either McGills or Western.

This failure therefore explains why Argyll Ferries have received an additional subsidy of around £200k over contract price from the Scottish Government. Where actual carryings run 15% or more below the anticipated carrying levels on which an original tender submission was based, compensation for actuality is allowed for in the tender.

While this provision offers protection to the operator, it could also be seen as removing any incentive to succeed and providing one to fail. This would, of course, only come into play were the successful bidder to have been a private sector operator. State owned operators, as exemplified in this particular service, are, by their nature, distanced from success or failure in performance.

The extent to which demand for the Argyll Ferries service justifies the very substantial public investment involved in the state provision and state subsidised fares for this service is now clearly questionable.

As noted in the opening section above, the latest published figures for 2013-14, indicate an average of 819 passengers carried per day, on a service providing 58 crossings a day – which is an average of 12 passengers per crossing – on a two boat service.

With the McGill’s drive on-drive off bus service on the Western Ferries Route from Dunoon direct to the Gourock rail head, there is no defensible financial argument for the Scottish Government to continue with this provision.

Yet the government is talking about new tonnage – which on the economics, is cloud-cuckoo land – and has encouraged the Dunoon-Gourock Ferry Action Group to seek out this ever more familiar bird.

And if it this is not a fantasy, how will the government defend spending upwards of £3 million per annum on a two boat service carrying on average, 12 passengers per crossing – and then add the cost of new tonnage?

Overall route performance with the present dual service

If one adds the carryings of the two current services to examine the picture of continuing demand for the route, the picture is additionally interesting.

Year-on-year, the overall totals still show a progressive decline – and that is in spite of Western Ferries showing a steady growth, meaning that it is the failing performance of the passenger service that is the drag.

In 2011-12, the first year of Argyll Ferries and Western Ferries in simultaneous service between Dunoon and Gourock was 71,128 passengers [4%] down on the passengers carried the previous year by Western and Cowal Ferries.

While Western Ferries’ car carryings were up 13,700 [2.4%] on the last year, 2010-11 [when there were two vehicle carrying ferries on the route], the car carryings for the route as a whole were down by 47,700 [7.6%] in 2011-12, although Western’s growth will have taken up some 28.7% of that loss.

The almost universal ‘bonus year’ for ferry carryings on the west coast, 2012-13, saw the dual service route as a whole lose only 11,300 passengers [0.65%]; and Western’s car carryings grow by 27.600 [4.77%].

The following year, 2013-14, compared with this monster year, saw the loss of 88,700 passengers [5.12%] and Western drop 27,000 car carryings [4.46%]

But if one takes that exceptional year out of the picture and compares the 2011-12 performance with the 2013-14 performance, the total passenger carryings were down 100,000 [5.74%]; while Western’s car carryings were up 600 [0.1%].

Conclusions

It could not be clearer from the overall nature and demand for ferry services on this route that there is gross overcapacity; and the failing service is the unnecessary and very expensive state subsidised passenger service..

Western’s ability to make a profit on a well managed private sector business with a 4-boat shuttle on a 20 minute crossing while keeping passenger fares at and often below those charged on the state subsidised service, indicates strongly that it is capable of serving demand as the sole service provider on the route.

What argument against this saving to the public purse in Scotland can survive an honest cost-benefit analysis?

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Related Articles & Comments

  • ” westerns route is much more convenient for vehicles “.
    Where did you source this, from Western ?
    I would say that the majority of vehicles turn left at McInroys point, heading for Greenock, Glasgow and beyond. This of course means passing through Gourock with the very congested main street. And the H.Q. to Dunoon is no better.
    Western carried more vehicles than Calmac because of their superior timetable. I thought that everyone realised this, but not forargyll obviously !!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 15

    george March 31, 2015 2:18 pm Reply
    • The same old rubbish then. “I would say” always a great statement with regards to establishing factual information. Anyway with the Kempock Street bypass now under construction, your inconvenience should be minimised.

      What was true was that Western’s fares were cheaper than CalMac’s.

      Also don’t forget that when arriving from the railhead in Gourock the time taken to get on to the main road. The wait there could be longer than the drive from McInroy’s. Point!!!

      The problem with increasing the frequency between Gourock and Dunoon was the additional cost of providing the extra service when there was no need to provide any public sector vehicle service at all, given the existence of a road and Western’s service.

      By the time Cowal Ferries service was withdrawn, Western had almost 95% of the market. Perhaps after the first Argyll contract they will have more foot passengers. What then for the passenger service?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6

      Peter Wade March 31, 2015 5:20 pm Reply
    • You are expecting to much from this web site, forargyll CAN NOT or WILL NOT be objective or impartial on this matter.
      There bias towards Western, will not allow them.
      As for Western themselves, they advertise there route as a turn up & go service, don’t make me laugh, if you don’t turn up 20-30 minutes before you want to sail, you will have to WAIT, ether they can not or will not6 keep up with the flow of traffic.
      You are better off going by road, it’s cheaper as well a total rip off…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

      An ex Dunoon Gourock ferry user April 2, 2015 9:17 am Reply
  • Peter, the Kempock St by-pass runs rigt through a busy carpark on a near single track route – there are approx 5 crossings where currently there is one.

    The net journey time saving predicted was 10seconds – not taking into account the crossings.

    Sorry to dash your hopes, but the £5.5m spent by Inverclyde Council will result in improvements for no-one!

    In all my many years passing through Kempock St, i’ve never experienced a single delay that matches that further along at the coastguards when heading west….a complete waste of money.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

    Jamie Black March 31, 2015 5:28 pm Reply
  • Dare I say, this topic has been done to death, and at the expense often of another ferry route which takes a fraction of the money the Dunoon route requires, provides a service that easily could be regarded as lifeline, unlike the Dunoon passanger route, and has experiences repeated and shocking service degradation and near miss incidents since it was retendered by SPT.

    And yet, virtually nothing from Forargyll…nothing to publicise the plight of those on the peninsula and nothing to come up with a new model incorporating Dunoon and Kilcreggan on the old trianguler route.

    SPT cannot join up the journeys, and neither is FA….shame.

    Why does the Dunoon route warrant such close attention and Kilcreggan virtually none?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 5

    Jamie Black March 31, 2015 5:32 pm Reply
    • It’s difficult to imagine an excuse for the performance of the ‘movers and the shakers’ in SPT, but surely there’s need for reform of the way in which integration of passenger transport in this area of the country is handled.
      And the only people who can really do that, across various local authorities and public transport bodies, are surely our Holyrood MSPs.
      Surely, this time of rising political temperatures is exactly the right time to start shouting from the rooftops about this crummy state of affairs.
      Or should the European authorities be asked for help in sorting out this Scottish mess?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

      Robert Wakeham March 31, 2015 5:57 pm Reply
    • Thankfully it gets coverage over on thelochsidepress; lost passsenger certificates, only carrying 12 passengers, no service due to a claimed ‘technical’ fault but the ferry reappears with a fresh coat of paint, repeatedly no replacement boat, zero response from SPT beyond “SPT senior officers are displeased with this week’s interruptions”. The sooner they are relieved of the responsibility of overseeing the ferry, which they clearly are not interested in or capable of discharging, the better. Mediocre as Argyll Ferries are, they look like consummate professionals compared to Clydelink.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

      db March 31, 2015 6:53 pm Reply
  • You should send this article to Hollyrood Newsroom. Someone there might just take some notice!
    Did anyone else notice Argyll Ferries status update at around 2pm today? Wish I had copied it. It advised that due to technical problems, some of the sailings tonight ( around 9 pm ish) would be cancelled, due to technical problems. Do they have a crystal ball in Gourock? Can’t figure out how they knew about this situation, some 7 hours before it happened, and having three boats available to provide the normal timetable. Or am I missing something?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

    Dunoon Lad March 31, 2015 9:53 pm Reply
    • ‘Due to technical problems’ is also a term favoured by their big brother, Calmac, to cover just about any service disruption that isn’t weather-related, and to me suggests a rather dismissive attitude to the intelligence of their customers – who would surely like the organisation to be a bit more specific about what’s screwing up their journey.
      Unless, of course, Calmac really haven’t a clue.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

      Robert Wakeham March 31, 2015 10:33 pm Reply
    • There is a technical problem with Argyll Flyer which amy account for this.
      It is not expected to be prolonged and the company has said that it expects MV Coruisk to sail for her core duty on the Summer season run between Mallaig and Armadale on Skye, which starts on Friday 3rd April.
      Coruisk has been acting as winter supplement on the Gourock-Dunoon service since December – as she did last year.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

      newsroom April 1, 2015 12:07 am Reply
  • Delays going through Gourock between the swimming pool, and the station are very common. With commercial vehicles double parked, vehicles trying to park, and vehicles parked on both sides. Surely having one way routes can only help matters for all users. To repeat the obvious once more, it was the (mostly) car users, that brought on the demise of the town centre vehicular service, with Cal Mac really helping, by making no effort to try and turn their route into a successful (read commercial) operation. They were totally blinkered, and as usual, just pocketed the subsidy, and never progressed their possible capabilities with the route.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

    Dunoon Lad March 31, 2015 10:08 pm Reply
    • Calmac were hobbled by being unable to move on from the streakers to double-ended vessels with faster loading/unloading, nor were they permitted to run more than once per hour by the Scottish Office. Perhaps justifiably any money available was spent on vessels for other routes. The move to double-enders should have happened when the new breakwater was built, but the then Scottish Executive chose to tie itself in knots with EU directives, a legacy we live with even now.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

      db April 1, 2015 4:16 am Reply
  • @db – I understood that Cal-Mac could, and wanted to run more services. The issue was that they wanted even more subsidy to do this, which begs the question why did they want to run even more crossings at additional losses, over and above the existing losses?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

    Dunoon Lad April 1, 2015 1:46 pm Reply
  • I don’t see any problem with a subsidy. It would be for the benefit of users of the ferry, usually taxpayers. Cal-Mac belongs to you and I, the public. Both vehicles and foot passengers had superior facilities on Cal-Mac.
    W/F are run purely for profit, for investors, the paying public don’t really come into their thoughts.
    Should ALL subsidies be withdrawn, from every ferry route in the country……and travel cards for the elderly etc; ?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 11

    george April 2, 2015 9:23 am Reply
    • What nonsense – ‘the paying public’ are the reason for WF’s existence, and it’s created a very good service.
      The problem is in providing a decent passenger link between downtown Dunoon and Gourock station, either by bus-on-ferry or by dedicated pedestrian-friendly passenger ferry – and over what seems like decades now this has been suffering from an uncoordinated, fragmented, sometimes ill-informed and sometimes politically twisted state of chaos.
      And the efforts of the government seem really rather pathetic.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

      Robert Wakeham April 2, 2015 10:20 am Reply
  • Once again…….nobody has said that W/F don’t have a good timetable but, that’s really all that they have in their favour. And that is why they had the majority of vehicle traffic, no other reason. Their shore facilities for travellers are next to zero. At busy times they commandeer the public road at H.Q. ! That’s not right.
    A car ferry IS needed Dunoon – Gourock.
    CalMac did give the disabled travel at half price on all their routes. Not Western.
    Do you travel by Western Robert Wakehman ? I doubt it.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

    george April 2, 2015 3:35 pm Reply
    • George, what do you mean busy times, a few occasions on a Sunday morning or when the Rest is closed and all the traffic goes through Dunoon?

      As for that’s all they have, what about the local jobs and the ambulance service.

      Given the frequency of the service, the most that you will wait for a ferry is 10 minutes, you could spend longer than that waiting for some of the bus services in Cowal.

      However why is a car service needed? The MVA report stated that the withdrawal of the streaker had no impact on the local economy.

      As for fares Western does not charge us concessionary card holders when Argyll Ferries do.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

      Peter Wade April 2, 2015 4:12 pm Reply
    • Not forgetting the cheaper fares when compared to CalMac’s car fares. The switchable tickets and the fact that they did not expire.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

      Peter Wade April 2, 2015 4:43 pm Reply
  • When fares are mentioned, remember and look at the similar routes, that are all massively subsidised, and most are a lot more than Western charge, which are not subsidised, can be used with any vehicle, and as Peter says, do not expire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

    Dunoon Lad April 3, 2015 10:08 am Reply
  • Can’t compare prices now as W/F have a monopoly on the route. The latest price rise (2015) now have Western advertising £23.20 for a car and £8.50 for a driver and passenger, return. Cheap ? You can buy cheaper if you buy a 10 journey book, but at £? rather expensive if an infrequent traveller.
    Cal-Mac half price fares were for the disabled VEHICLES.
    The service give to the ambulance is commendable, but I believe that they now charge for this. Helicopter ?
    I have waited a lot longer than 10 minutes for a ferry, on both sides of the river.
    The road users shouldn’t be inconvenienced for the benefit of Western’s monopoly, no matter how infrequent.
    I would rather pay the small fare for concessionary Dunoon – Gourock passenger journey than have the hassle of accessing Western on both sides of the Clyde.
    Someone once said that Western were the Ryanair of the Clyde, how true !
    I think we should give this subject a rest now, as we will never agree……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

    george April 3, 2015 10:45 am Reply
    • That and you are wrong.

      Are you sure that your figures as correct? I asked the same someone who told me that Western’s unsubsidised passenger fares were cheaper than Argyll’s subsidised fares.

      Do Western charge for the ambulance service or not, in this case, to believe is not enough.

      As for getting to Dunoon and paying the concessionary fare, calm down, you can still do this when you use Argyll Ferries.

      I am glad you are quoting someone, I am sure that whoever someone is they are grateful for your endorsement. I have always thought that someone knew something about everything or was it nothing. Was it someone famous, or someone else? It always makes a big difference what someone thinks.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

      Peter Wade April 3, 2015 11:59 am Reply
  • If Western can afford not to charge travel card passengers then obviously they will be cheaper.
    OK, Western DO now charge for ambulance call-outs.
    The quote about Ryanair was posted on here some time ago.
    Western can’t, or shouldn’t, say their service is Dunoon to Gourock. Ryanair will fly you to Brussels….and you land an hours drive from the city !
    Yes, it does make a difference what others think, even if they don’t agree with you !!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

    george April 3, 2015 5:36 pm Reply
    • George, are you sure that Western charge for the callouts? They never used to, so when did this start and how do you know? I would imagine that everyone associated with western will very embarrassed by this change by the management.

      Unless you are wrong and are just being spiteful?

      Both of Western’s terminals are only 2 miles from dunoon and gourock station, I seem to manage it in a couple of minutes, so therefore hardly similar to Ryanair. The last time I flew into heathrow, it still took me 40 minutes to get into central London.

      Or perhaps you are making the comparison on the cheap fares or how they revolutionised the market for flights or how they forced the major carriers to stop over charging their customers for the same product.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      Peter Wade April 3, 2015 8:10 pm Reply
      • ” Only 2 miles……a couple of minutes “! A mile a minute. That’s not allowed. The polis will get you.
        Are you sure that W/F DON’T charge for callouts ? I do know that for years they did not charge but now….
        A lot of Western employees on Forargyll.
        As I’ve said may times before, Western give a good service, timetable wise, but from the off they were determined to have a monopoly, see CalMac off the route, by fair means or foul. Would a wee bit of competition really harm Western ? Give the travelling public a choice.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

        george April 7, 2015 9:55 am Reply
        • Of course Western would happily have seen off Calmac – that is what business is all about. would competition harm them? Possibly. But that competition should not be funded by the taxpayer and not purely for the sake of it!

          I use Western often enough and cannot fault on service, price or quality.

          And no reasonable person could.

          The SNP are sheer hypocrits when it comes to ferries – one one hand they preach about poverty in Scotland, but one the other, they literally throw hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer money away. £2m a year for a service that already exists in multiple forms in Dunoon.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

          Jamie Black April 7, 2015 4:54 pm Reply
      • You already have a choice, Western, Mcgills, Argyll and the road. You have more choice than any other community that has a ferry service.

        there is nothing to stop someone else coming in to compete against Western but, like Western they would have to do it without subsidy for a vehicle service though. As someone else has already there seems to be no interest.

        Or are what you are saying is you want the return of a subsidised vehicle service.

        Again, can you clarify, are western now charging for the ambulance or not, you seem to change your mind at every post. And how do you know this?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

        Peter Wade April 7, 2015 2:54 pm Reply
        • Did Western really start up without government help, or make improvements without any help ? Did they do it all on their own ?
          I don’t think so.
          I don’t object to a subsidy, being a tax payer, and part owner of Cal-Mac, if it gives the public a choice.
          Who owns Western ?
          Are McGills buses subsidised ? They surely must be looking at the number of ‘free’ passengers they carry. Western must give them free passage or greatly reduced fares !
          Not being party to Western inside information (is anybody ?),I concede that I cannot say for certain that they now charge for call outs. Maybe you can confirm that they don’t ? If I have embarrasses anyone connected to Western, I apologise…if I’m wrong.
          Anyone wishing to start a new service now wouldn’t receive the same help that Western had in the beginning. Western would see to that!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

          george April 7, 2015 4:41 pm Reply
        • Had Western been given money to start up with, we would have known about this long before now as they have been subject to much nit picking from certain quarters for many years. Also why would the authorities subsidise western at the same time as they were subsidising calMac?

          They did however receive 10% for the terminal improvements a few years ago.

          So you are happy to pay twice to use a town centre service, first as a taxpayer and then as a user. You would still be cheaper using Western as their fares were cheaper than Cowals.

          I see you are now making assumptions about McGills and what they pay, after being uncertain, sure, not sure and now apologetic re the ambulance service. If you don’t know you don’t know, speculation is always dangerous.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

          Peter Wade April 7, 2015 5:13 pm Reply
  • @George – well, if a Dunoon to Gourock town centre vehicular service IS needed, where are all the ferry companies desperate to start a service, and make a profit? I have read numerous documents, and reports etc, regarding this issue, and have yet to read anything that shows any proof of a demand for such a service. Tenders and contracts are not required, as a company could start their own service, with, I am sure, the blessing of many people, if you believe everything you read.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

    Dunoon Lad April 3, 2015 8:13 pm Reply
    • Peter Wade & Dunoon Lad need to stop asking George intelligent questions – it’s just not fair of them.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

      Robert Wakeham April 3, 2015 8:25 pm Reply
      • Robert, how often do you cross the Clyde by ferry ?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

        george April 7, 2015 9:59 am Reply
        • You already have a choice, Western, Mcgills, Argyll and the road. You have more choice than any other community that has a ferry service.

          there is nothing to stop someone else coming in to compete against Western but, like Western they would have to do it without subsidy for a vehicle service though. As someone else has already there seems to be no interest.

          Or are what you are saying is you want the return of a subsidised vehicle service.

          Again, can you clarify, are western now charging for the ambulance or not, you seem to change your mind at every post. And how do you know this?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

          Peter Wade April 7, 2015 2:54 pm Reply
        • Perhaps if you might answer the questions asked of you, you might get an answer to this.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

          Peter Wade April 7, 2015 2:55 pm Reply
    • To be fair, it is Easter, perhaps George is religious and is expecting the return of a vehicle service on Monday.

      Well it is going to take a miracle.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

      Peter Wade April 3, 2015 10:16 pm Reply
    • Why must they make a profit ? It should be a public service.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      george April 7, 2015 9:57 am Reply
      • To pay for the new terminals, to pay for the new vessels.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

        Peter Wade April 7, 2015 2:56 pm Reply
  • I’ve seen George’s arguments and thought he was wrong but today I have been reading about the RET fares and I now think he has some valid points.
    It will be possible to get a ferry from Tarbert to Portavadie for £2.60 per passenger and £8.15 per car. I assume that’s singles. I can get similar prices from Mallaig to Armadale.
    Why are these fares not available from Dunoon? all the routes mentioned can be driven round so there is not any difference. Is RET only being applied to ferries that the government run? To me the Dunoon ferries should all get RET as well and Western should get their costs made up in the same way.
    These new rules mean tourists are going to be carried around on vessels for fares that are a lot less than commuters going to their work pay every day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

    Murdoch MacKenzie April 3, 2015 10:59 pm Reply
    • Surely RET has to come to dunoon.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

      Peter Wade April 4, 2015 6:13 am Reply
  • According to the Dunoon Standard this week, RET is only being introduced to “lifeline services” . The Dunoon passenger service is a “lifeline service” but Western’s route is not. It is also only being introduced to the Clyde and Hebrides bundled contract services at the moment. Remember that apart from the Dunoon services, there are other private and council services, throughout Scotland, that are also not included in RET at the moment. Apparently, in some cases, RET is actually more expensive than the current fares. Not sure if RET replaces any concessionary fares, that are in place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    Dunoon Lad April 4, 2015 12:11 pm Reply
  • RET is a scandal that no-one understands. RET is throwing millions of pounds of money at something everyone likes without realising that the taxpaer is footing the massive bill.

    RET discourages efficiencies or any overhaul in the way ferry services are run and condemns Scotland to a continued wasting of money that could be much better spent elsewhere.

    in most cases RET fares could be delivered without spending an extra single penny of taxpayers money – except no-one, and I mean no-one in government is interested.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    Jamie Black April 7, 2015 5:01 pm Reply
    • £30M+ per annum I think I read just to make up the shortage in the fares boxes. The other subsidies on top as before.
      Like you say it will discourage efficiencies, in fact it does it already. When the pilot scheme was run Stornoway – Ullapool usage went up while Tarbert – Uig hardly moved. The difference in the RET fares was less than the cost of fuel, wear and tear getting to the 100% more efficient ferry route.
      RET should not apply to any route where there is a shorter alterative.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Murdoch MacKenzie April 7, 2015 7:39 pm Reply

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