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.