No ferry fare reduction for outer isles residents

There will be no blanket reduction in ferry fares for residents in Shetland’s outlying islands, a meeting of the council’s environment and transport committee heard today.

Speaking at the meeting, transport chief Michael Craigie said that any reduction on inter-island ferry fares for commuters and island residents would result in a “very substantial” increase in fares for other users, that is, visitors and non-islander residents.

A consultation found, for example, that a 50 per cent reduction in fares for island residents would need a compensating increase of 80 per cent for other users. Although the effects of this would be unpredictable, it could ultimately mean lower income for the ferry service.

However there will be some concessions to certain users in that a standard vehicle or commercial vehicle journey to Fair Isle or Foula will be reduced to match prices in Skerries and Papa Stour, and a cheaper 10-journey motorcycle ticket will be introduced.

Mr Craigie said these should address some to the “inequalities” in the present fare structure.

Meanwhile steps are being taken to ensure ferry fares can be maintained at their present level. An immediate priority is to make sure all fares are collected, which would ensure “revenue security”. This has already been addressed.

Additionally, a pilot project is to look into a “smart” ticketing system that can be used on buses and ferries and will correctly identify groups of users.


Add Your Comment
  • Duncan Simpson

    • June 15th, 2015 17:39

    How about getting the Scottish Government to roll out there Road Equivalent Tariff scheme that other Scottish Islands have enjoyed for years?

    This would hugely reduce costs for all inter-island travel which would be a huge boost to the whole of Shetland.

    This is the Governments excuse; “For the Northern Isles, due to the longer distances involved, rolling out RET now or in the next few years would mean an increase on a range of fares currently available.

    We have said that no one will pay more for an RET fare than their current standard single fare, therefore the intention is to phase in the introduction of RET to the Northern Isles over a much longer timeframe.”

    I see this as a huge cop out. Why would it be so difficult to introduce this scheme for routes which would benefit and freeze the routes which wouldn’t at their current prices until something else can be sorted out?

    • John Tulloch

      • June 15th, 2015 20:37

      Absolutely, Duncan. Something I find interesting is that they’ve changed the RET calculation formula several times since 2008 and yet they’ve never found a way to make helpful for Shetland travelers? Funny that.

      And it doesn’t seem possible to apply it to routes that would benefit. Aberdeen travelers would be worse off so they winna gie it ta the inter-island routes that desperately need it. Funny that?

      Surely, all they would need to do would be to add an additional rule that no route would be worse off and then implement it across the board but no – eight years on the discrimination continues.

      A new pro-Shetland lobby group or party is desperately needed to fight Shetland’s corner and hold the Scottish government and the council to account.

      • Robert Sim

        • June 17th, 2015 8:06

        Fighting Shetland’s corner is best done with an MSP and MP who are SNP and thus can directly influence the Scottish Government. There is no interest here locally in a Shetland Movement Mk II, as far as I can see,

      • John Tulloch

        • June 17th, 2015 9:43

        Not so, Robert Sim. Sadly, Shetland’s best interests coincide even less with those of Holyrood than they do with Westminster’s.

        Shetland overpays tax versus government funding received by £80 million without counting oil billions. An independent Scotland would wish to keep that just as much as the UK. Indeed, given the £7bn-£9bn hole forecast for independent Scottish finances, it would be no better.

        As part of the EU which the SNP insist is good for Scotland, Shetland’s fishing grounds are being pillaged by foreign fishing ships, losing hundreds of millions a year for that industry. Witness the size of Faroe’s fishing fleet versus Shetland’s.

        Faroese-style autonomy would solve all these problems for Shetland and one thing the SNP can be depended upon is to do everything they can to prevent the loss of their northern cash cow.

        Therefore the worst possible MP and MSP representation for Shetland would be the SNP – and that goes double for the council!

      • Robin Stevenson

        • June 17th, 2015 11:12

        Time and time again we hear you spinning this story John and yet not “Once” have you offered a shred of evidence, “Shetland overpays tax versus government funding received by £80 million without counting oil billions”…So, once again, I ask you, Who collects our taxes, Westminster or the SG?…Simple question, I’d appreciate a simple answer?

        With regard to the [so called] “black hole” what is the UK’s “black hole John? is it the £1.56 Trillion debt? or perhaps it’s the £45 Billion pa service charge? Or maybe it’s the £94 Billion deficit? Is this your idea of “good economics”?

        Let’s not forget that this [imaginary] £7.6 Billion is “Our share” of UK debt? Furthermore the figure is arrived at using guesstimates from the IFS of guesstimates of the OBR, why not just think of a number and double it?

        How much does Scotland earn from being part of the EU John? Whether it’s the 50% of all foreign businesses in Scotland, the 300,000 workforce it employs in Scotland, free trade, EU subsidies, etc.
        And compare that figure with how much we lose through our fishing quotas?…

        Just remind us again of the 6% that the Faroes receive each year from Denmark and why? Perhaps you could also tell us what happened to the Faroes in 1992 when fishing wasn’t quite so good?

      • John Tulloch

        • June 17th, 2015 12:42

        1. The taxes are currently paid to Westminster, I have no problem saying that. If Scotland achieves “Full Fiscal Autonomy” or becomes independent Holyrood will collect Shetland’s £80 million a year tax surplus. The figure is quoted from a study carried out on behalf of the SIC at the outset of Our Islands, Our Future.

        Shetland’s best interests do not coincide with those of Scotland.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 17th, 2015 12:46

        You claim that Scotland earns a huge amount more from the EU than she loses in fishing quotas. You make my point for me.

        Shetland’s best interests do not coincide with those of Scotland.

      • Ali Inkster

        • June 17th, 2015 13:34

        Wrobin it is public knowledge that Shetland overpays by £80 million a year, if you had even the faintest knowledge of Shetland you also would know this. But I guess it not something they like to talk about at SSnp HQ not when the rest of you are so far in the red.

  • Steven Jarmson

    • June 15th, 2015 20:53

    We can’t get RET because we’re not an SNP constituency. Simple.

    • David McDowall

      • June 19th, 2015 18:14

      If the SNP really are that petty and self serving then do we really want them in charge?

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 16th, 2015 8:53

    It would reduce the Orkney inter islands ferries even more as these are much more expensive

    • John Ridland

      • June 16th, 2015 21:34

      “Much more expensive”.! Or much more realistic..???

      • Duncan Simpson

        • June 17th, 2015 12:19

        Expensive fares are realistic John? So are you of the opinion that we should happily see the outer isles of Shetland depopulated?

        Knowing the cost of everything and value of nothing springs to mind when people spout such attitudes.

  • Andrew J Hughson

    • June 19th, 2015 12:09

    Far be it from me to spoil a good discussion covering a wide range of points of view but…have any of you actually taken a trip to an island lately which is covered by RET?

    I have just returned from a trip to Arran and would like to share with you the ACTUAL cost of my trip in order to bring some sense of reality into an otherwise interesting theological discussion.

    My trip from Ardrossan to Broderick took 55 minutes and cost £37.70 return. (Car + driver). This route is under the RET umbrella.

    I frequently travel to Fetlar from the Shetland mainland which involves 2 ferry crossings of 15 minutes and 30 minutes – 45 min in total. The return fare from the mainland to Fetlar is £13 return (Car + driver) This is almost one third of the price and worth bearing in mind also that, on this route, there are 2 sets of crews employed to operate the 2 ferries.

    I really struggle to see the logic in any of the arguments already posted!

    • John Tulloch

      • June 19th, 2015 13:59

      Ardrossan-Brodick is 2 x 55 min trips for £37.70. I think you’ll find before RET it was more like £70-£80 and they are relatively big, comfortable ships, with bars and a restaurant and viewing lounges, more akin to Northlink ones than inter-island ferries which are much more “agricultural”. Need to compare like with like.

      RET is not cheap. When did it ever cost you £37.70 to drive 30 miles?

      • Andrew J Hughson

        • June 20th, 2015 7:53

        Sorry if my previous comment was difficult to understand John but the Shetland mainland – Fetlar journey involves a 2 x 45 minute ferry trip split between two crossings which, as I said previously, is not too far removed from the 2 x 55 minute Ardrossan/Broderick journey.

        Also, in case you haven’t travelled on the Yell – Toft ferry in the last decade, there is a large seated lounge area where a cup of tea or coffee can be enjoyed while admiring the view across Yell sound.

        Unfortunately there is no restaurant or bar but, given the new alcohol driving limits, it is probably best to enjoy a drink at the end of your journey…not during!

        So we are in fact comparing a similar service (which basically gets you from A to B) where the RET fare structure does not compare favourably at all with that provided by our local authority…38GBP v 13GBP isn’t even close.

        That’s the simple point I was making although it might have got ‘lost in translation’ a little.

      • John Tulloch

        • June 20th, 2015 10:01


        I havena been on the Yell ferry for a while. Does the tea and coffee come wi cups and saucers and cakes and is it served over a counter by people in company uniform?

        The Ardrossan-Brodick crossing involves a large, sophisticated vessel which is far more analogous to the Northlink service between Lerwick and Aberdeen than to Toft-Fetlar. You’d need to compare, say Gourock-Dunoon or South Uist-Barra, which use similar craft.

        That said, if RET applies, they should all be the same? I assume you were paying RET because it sounds a lot cheaper than when I used to go there? Do locals pay the same as you paid?

        RET isn’t cheap – I can drive 360 miles (2 x 180 miles) for about £100 (all costs related to miles traveled).

        I wid lik ta ken how dey work it oot bit naebody ever wants ta tell wis? Hit’s surely a secret!

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