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The Scottish Government cannot instruct Argyll Ferries to …

Comment posted Research reveals shock insights into reality of Dunoon ferry service provision by newsroom.

The Scottish Government cannot instruct Argyll Ferries to replace a passenger ferry with a vehicle ferry within the term of the current contract – unless – directly or indirectly, it assists them to do so.
Were this to happen, it is unimaginable that this would survive the challenge under competition law that would inevitably follow from the other bidders for this contract.
All bidders in the original tender for the current contract operated by Argyll Ferries, were invited to submit a proposal to deliver the passenger service in a vehicle and passenger ferry.
In this instance, every penny of the costs associated with the delivery of a vehicle service would have to be accounted separately from the passenger costs, which are legally subsidised.
Not one bidder submitted such a proposal – because the vehicle service between the town centres of Gourock and Dunoon cannot be competitive and is not financially viable.
No politician can wave a wand and change this fact.
Me Neil, as with any politician is skilled in using phrases to deceive the unwary, such as ‘the Scottish Government is committed to…’- which means nothing; or ‘I would like to see…’ – which means the same.
What is going on is a surreal spectator sport where the government appears to be flailing around against the scenario they brought into being themselves by the decisions they took.
Presumably, they could either stop the current contract and transfer the financial penalty from one pubic sector pocket to another via the Argyll ferries books.
They could then retender the contract, specified differently – but this could not make a vehicle service between the Gourock and Dunoon town centres subsidisable; nor could it make it financially viable. What could a second outcome be?
Alternatively they could go ahead and indirectly assist Argyll Ferries to a vehicle and passenger ferry – and buy off the original competing bidders from issuing a challenge under competition law by giving them routes removed from the west coast portfolio operated by Calmac and ‘tendered’.

newsroom also commented

  • You are logically adrift in this – and you actually support the position the facts demonstrate.
    Nothing we have said in evidencing the massive capacity overprovisiom on this route has anything at all to do with whether empty ferries sail or not.
    If you are correct that there are occasions when there is no reason to sail, it is actually further evidence that the capacity is way ahead of the demand – otherwise those services would sail.
  • There are two issues here – neither operator publishes breakdown figures and one would need to see those and analyse them closely to distil the usage patterns.
    Peak time under supply may be likely which is why we’ve said the Scottish Government, if it retired public sector involvement, might tender a small filler service.
    Then, major city transport cannot cope with full demand at peak time commuter times. You can’t get on a tube sometimes so you learn to start earlier.
    There’s no reason why the massive overprovision on the Gourock Dunoon route might not be left to the market to resolve as it will.
    Travel early or get in late. Taking that line would also spread use of capacity better.

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