Scottish Youth Parliament member Emily Shaw has written to NorthLink managing director Stuart Garrett to raise concerns about the impact of the reduction in fare discounts for students and the group discount scheme.
She said the reduction in fare discounts would see a hike in the price of travelling between the isles and university for students.
“I appreciate that this reduction to 10 per cent is in line with other service discounts on mainland Scotland but a twelve, or sometimes fourteen, hour journey home is not in line with the journey home made by other students via bus or train. I do not believe this reduction can be justified by simply making reference to other discounts around the country.
“We are in a unique situation living so far away from mainland Scotland and I believe that this greater concession rate reflected this and should be maintained at 25 per cent.”
Emily is also worried about the impact changes to the group discount scheme will have on youngsters who are part of sports teams who “rely on this group discount in order to be able to compete on mainland Scotland.”
She said: “The details of the new system offer no assurances to clubs/groups with existing arrangements that their discount will be maintained. If they were not to be allocated sponsorship then many groups would not be able to be included in leagues or competitions within Scotland.
“This would negatively impact on the individuals as these events offer a goal and incentive to train hard. There is also something to be said in relation to inclusion. We are an island community but we are still an important part of Scotland and there is no good reason why our right to compete against other teams or individuals should be affected simply because we need to use a ferry in order to attend events.
“The support given by NorthLink to our clubs and teams previously was extremely valuable and I would be disappointed to see Serco abandon this consistent, reliable support.”
Emily has urged Serco to reconsider its position to as “the concessionary discount and the group discount scheme were vital to ensuring our lifeline service”, particularly for young people and students.
She added: “I have been in contact with students regarding the issue and the Young Scot Youth Legacy Ambassadors for Shetland. I also raised the concerns of these individuals in my letter. I look forward to hearing from Mr Garrett and to working with NorthLink to ensure that unfair changes are not implemented without public consultation.”