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Of course it is a sensible question. Tolls …

Comment posted MSP’s views on the A83 situation by ferryman.

Of course it is a sensible question. Tolls can be charged on motorways, bridges, tunnels – anything you want.

The trend has been to remove them. However on the Dunoon Gourock ferry route we have gone completely in the opposite direction. We have a sole supplier with no control on fares or profit. I don’t want free vehicle ferries just competition, you (who don’t use the service) keep arguing against it.

So why would you object to tolls on the “Rest” with no control on fares and profit. It seems like exactly the same situation for me.

Is the only difference that you use the “Rest” and so are not quite so keen on the idea of private monopolies when its your pocket that get hits. Really Robert you are spoilt for choice there is the A83 or the A82.

ferryman also commented

  • As I understand it there is nothing to stop the Government now imposing a limit on the profit margin made by Western Ferries – I could be wrong but the situation seems straightforward. If there are any legal beagles out there comments would be welcome.

    Western are now the sole provider of a vehicle crossing of the Firth of Clyde. Dunoon and Cowal would be in a dire situation if it did not exist.

    The crossing is therefore providing an essential service. As such there does not seem to be anything to stop the Government imposing a Public Service Obligation on the company, limiting its fares and profit margins to a “fair” level – there is no need to provide compensation if this is done, because of course the company is still gaining a “fair” profit margin.

    I wish to see competition on the route. However if the current monopoly situation persits then really the Government have a duty to act as, if the current levels are in excess of “fair” then surely that is profiteering?

    Of course the Government has been very clear about the effect of RET where it has been introduced – both vehicle and passenger number have increased dramatically. The result could therfore be a win for all, with Western carrying more traffic at lower fares and lower profit margin but actually making more money.

    As I said I prefer competition, but Public Service Obligations seem a fair alternative.

  • The Government is permitted to subsidise the passenger only service in Dunoon to a fair level of profit under EU rules. So there is already some way of deciding what “fair” is.

    I believe the Government can simply impose a Public Service Obligation on Western Ferries to charge fares that result in a fair profit.

    I want competition. Failing that I want Western limited to a fair profit.

    You are suggesting RET which I suspect will result in even cheaper fares (the crossing is short), fine. Though I think in that case a subsidy might be required.

  • Robert, I had missed you saying that.

    So to be clear then you want the charges on Western Ferries to be capped at the level of RET?

    Presumably you only want compensation paid to Western if they then make less than what might be considered a “fair” profit for the industry sector?

  • You are trying to shirk the question again.

    What would be wrong with a private company solving the problem on the “Rest” with a “truely excellent” solution and then being free to charge say £40 for a family of four in a car to make a return trip? Commercial vehicles would be charged a lot more no doubt.

    You seem to be in favour of the equivalent for the people of Dunoon, but don’t want it for your self on a road that you use.

    Perhaps you see some drawbacks when you want to travel, for tourism, and for the price of goods and services – do these drawbacks not also apply in Dunoon?

  • What do you think would be a fair fee for a return ticket on the “Rest” for a family of four. Maybe £40? That would be in line with the Firth of Clyde ferry crossing. Do you think perhaps that might have an adverse effect on tourism and commerce in general?

    Its certainly a lot more than the Forth Road bridge which is costing billions but will be free to use.

Recent comments by ferryman

  • Responses to Scottish Government’s Information Day on potential Gourock-Dunoon ferry service
    As usual newsroom bends things by quoting the MVA report as saying the vehicle service ‘could be feasible’.

    In fact the reports states; “This study has therefore demonstrated that, given the assumptions made and analysis
    undertaken here,a passenger and vehicle ferry service IS feasible.”
    [ see section 9.1.10 http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/files/documents/reports/j278759/j278759.pdf ]

    I am not surprised that Serco are interested in what is Scotland’s busiest vehicle ferry route particularly when the competition turns such a massive profit margin from poorly located ports.

    If Serco have wider ambitions for ferries in Scotland, as it seems they do, then Dunoon Gourock would make sense.

  • Scottish Government moves on Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services provision
    “A lifeline ferry service is required in order for a community to be viable.”

    So Dunoon is lifeline then – good.

  • Scottish Government moves on Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services provision
    Newsroom says that Dunoon Gourock is “not a lifeline service”.

    I think Dunoon Gourock is an essential lifeline service but obviously Soapbox aka Newsroom does not.

    So where is the definition of “lifeline” so that we can decide who is correct?

    The answer is that there is no definition – Transport Scotland shall decide, route by route, to whom that applies.

    As to contractual terms, look at Dunoon Gourock, anybody can run anything there is absolutely no contractual need for the service to be reliable. So if your route is goung to be tendered in this way you are totally unprotected.

    Of course Dunoon Gourock is only a piddling little route – well no, according to the Scottish Government it is the most important Scottish route for vehicle transport and significant even on European terms, but that of course is not enough to make it lifeline in Newsroom’s eyes.

  • So what will Transport Scotland talk to Brussels about on Dunoon-Gourock ferry?
    Read the report.

    The taxpayer and the people of Dunoon/Cowal can have a passenger only service and pay a subsidy for it.

    Alternatively they can pay the same subsidy and get a passenger and vehicle service.

    Of course if they choose the vehicle service then the subsidy is paid back via berthing fees both to the Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council – in other words to the public purse it is for practical purposes free (which the passenger only service is not). Not only that but the operator of the vehicle service makes a larger profit.

    All of which in a Scottish Government produced report meets all EC requirements.

  • Lairds powering on to get Western’s boats completed
    So they are not actually as promised going to be in service for the games this year?

    If they were in service what would the additional car carrying capacity and people carrying capacity per hour have been?

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