Sports groups to face ‘higher ferry charges’
NorthLink’s “Group Island Discount Scheme”, which helped sports clubs and school groups travel south by ferry, is being reviewed.
MSP Tavish Scott said he had been contacted by a number of local clubs which were worried about having to pay increasing boat fares and costs.
Mr Scott said: “The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow are about all of Scotland. Yet our promising athletes face increasing transport costs. Serco and the Scottish Government meet on 22nd February to resolve this issue. I expect the group discount that helped many Shetlanders with Northlink to remain with Serco. That is what we were told last summer.
“Islanders used to pay the equivalent of 70 per cent of the low season fare year-round. Now it seems likely they will shortly be asked to pay 70 per cent of the actual fare at time of travel, adding up to 35 per cent to the cost of each peak season journey. This is unfair.
“Shetlanders need the continuing discounts on the fares of the lifeline ferry service. We do not have the different options that Orkney has; teams and groups are already battling inflated fuel prices and other increased costs. Visits and competitions are often the highlight of the year for many young people and pupils, they motivate and encourage group members to keep training and practising.
“I have also been in touch with Serco regarding their recent policy of asking for money at the time of booking. This is something many groups do not have the back-up funds to do, yet because of numbers, they have to reserve their cabins or seats well in advance of travel – often before the final teams travelling have been chosen.
“Transport Scotland are meeting with Serco representatives on 22nd February to discuss fares and discount schemes. While customer options need to be made clearer and better communicated to Shetland travellers, the actual discount rates must remain the same.”