26th February 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Fair Ferry Fares (Ryan Thomson)

NorthLink Ferry Terminal Sign

Back in August on his visit to Shetland, islands and transport minister Humza Yousaf kindly agreed to meet me as part of the Fair Ferry Fares Campaign which was created in May 2016 to put pressure on the Scottish government to keep their promise of ‘driving down’ fares for Shetland and Orkney’s lifeline service, something Nicola Sturgeon herself promised to do on her visit to the islands at the start of the year.

During this meeting Mr Yousaf promised many things. First of all he promised we wouldn’t be waiting ‘years and years’ for our fares to be reduced, and that something would be done ‘sooner rather than later’. Two months on and after discussing this issue with those in charge of the horrendous consultation it is my understanding that any new fares won’t be introduced until the new contract comes into play in April 2018, a full two years after the elections.

Mr Yousaf also promised to keep the Fair Ferry Fares Campaign in the loop, including being copied into any email correspondence and indeed being kept abreast on any information relating to the lifeline service and the internal ferries. This hasn’t happened.

Finally, I wrote Mr Yousaf a letter dated 19th September 2016, which I received an automated response to on 21st September promising a reply within 20 working days. The letter had a simple question, “Would you be prepared to release the time frame involved for reducing our fares?”. We are now well
over this deadline and we haven’t heard a single word from him privately, or indeed publicly.

I find a lack of response from Mr Yousaf deeply concerning. His clear lack of understanding on how important this matter is to islanders in Shetland and Orkney is clear and obvious and his inability to keep his promises to this campaign and the people of Shetland and Orkney show a lack of respect which should not be ignored.

I continually get people coming up to me on the street and in the shop urging me to keep going with the campaign and not be fobbed off with continuous lies and broken promises. I have lost count the number of people now who have told me they genuinely can no longer afford to leave Shetland because the prices are so high.

Some people simply cannot afford the £500+ trip to Aberdeen. In 2016 the fact people cannot afford an internal journey within Scotland is beyond belief.

It’s bad enough they allowed it to get this bad, however the lack of interest on this subject now from the Scottish government post election is even more startling.

I urge anyone who feels strongly about this to sign the ongoing petition and like the Facebook page for further updates.

Ryan Thomson
(Fair ferry fares campaigner)
Tagon Stores,
Tagon,
Voe.

12 comments

  1. Gordon Harmer

    I cannot believe Ryan finds the lack of interest from the SNP Scottish government startling, I have always said they have no interest in giving Shetland a fair deal on their lifeline ferry fares. This administration is a one trick pony and if that trick is realised ferry fares will increase because there will be no cash there subsidise the extortionate cost of getting of the island. I am also amazed at the lack of interest from the local population 3395 signatures on Ryan’s petition, talk about apathy. There again its maybe not apathy. maybe people are beginning to realise this government is only interested in investing seriously in the central belt of Scotland and no amount of petitions will make a blind bit of difference. Maybe its time to look elsewhere for help in the form of Ms Dugdale and Ms Davidson as neither of these leaders have tunnel vision where Scotland is concerned and unlike the SNP both have Scotland’s best interests first and foremost in their hearts.

    Reply
  2. Andrew Graham

    Use your oil fund to subsidise fares for locals instead of wasting it on failed projects..

    Reply
    • Steven Jarmson

      Firstly , that would mean Shetlanders having control over the Charitable Trust.
      Secondly, the oil money isn’t there to allow Scotland to steal from Shetland. The Central Belt and Glasgow Government runs a surplus. Why not just use some of that surplus instead of waiting until election year??
      How big will the tax cuts be in the run up to the next election? 2p, maybe 3p.
      Tartan Tories.

      Reply
  3. Johan Adamson

    I also think fares should be cheaper for tourists. There is no comparison between tourism here and in Orkney and the western isles. If we were cheaper to get to it would give a huge boost to accommodation, food and other tourist businesses.

    Reply
  4. John Tulloch

    Oh, that’s funny, it’s no time since ZetTrans chiefs, Messrs Stout and Craigie, were waxing lyrical on BBC Radio Shetland about how the work on a new fare structure would be finishing about now and everything would be fine because Mr Yousaf had said so?

    Anyone interested can access the recorded versions for 2nd August (Yousaf, Scott and Robinson) and 4th August (Stout and Craigie).

    OIOF has met ministers 14 times and on every occasion they have emphasised how “positive” the “process” has been so, although we have yet to hear of a single tangible gain, I’m sure everything will be fine …er…it will be fine, won’t it?

    Reply
    • Brian Smith

      How are the Wir Shetland negotiations with government going, by the way? Does the organisation still exist?

      Reply
  5. ian_tinkler

    Brian Smith, rather better than Corbyn is managing with the Labor boys. What a gift to Ms T May putting a man like that at the top of a dysfunctional party. Would be funny if it did not empower the Tories so. A left wing version of Trump, only radicals and the blind will ever vote for him and a few union lads, sad really. A man of the past.

    Reply
    • Martin Tregonning

      We are not American (or even worse Australian) and in the UK the word Labour has a “U” in it 🙂

      Reply
      • i tinkler

        The Labour party is no more, what we have now is Corbyn’s Labor. Not a United party, a divided mess, hence no “U” in it ????. Very sad!!!

  6. Gordon Harmer

    I think it is worth noting Nicola Sturgeon and her government has failed to introduce a single piece of legislation to Holyrood since the SNP won the Scottish election almost six months ago. What has she and her government been doing since the election, twiddling their thumbs and devoting too much attention to the threat to hold a second independence referendum. Little chance then of Shetland getting fair ferry fares under this regime; even less chance if independence is achieved.

    Reply
  7. ian tinkler

    Come now Gordon, Nicola has had a few setbacks to squirm about. Just image “human rights law” and her flagship legislation on state snooping. Give the lady a chance, then there was the multiple missed NHS targets, that needed considerable sulk time! Then Brexit and INDYREF2 whoops the polls did not swing her way. More sulk time needed and a few all expenses jaunts to Brussels at taxpayers cost. She had to set up a few more academics in think tanks to pontificate their usual nonsense!!! I actually can think of not a single thing the SNP/SG have achieved which is positive since the election, all a bit like ““WE PROMISE TO CUT FERRY FARES”. lol. No doubt a few of Nichola’s sycophants will come out and support this Government of nothing and nil achievement, actually, even they have gone a bit quiet recently, I miss them, always good for a laugh.

    Reply
  8. David Spence

    In all this promise by the SNP to cut fairs etc etc Nobody has ever mentioned the role Serco are playing in this, and the price Serco are charging regardless of what the SNP may or may not do in regards to ferry fares.

    This is also in light of the recent findings of Serco taking on the sub-contract company Seatruck, who were paying their workers well below the minimum wage because the ships were not UK flagged and the workers were not UK residents.

    Could this be a sign of things to come with Serco, once the UK is fully out of the EU, and workers with Serco or other sub-contractors via Serco could be vastly reduced wages given to the crew and staff regardless what the SNP may say………words without any substance and clout.

    Reply

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