Let’s have it explained (Leslie Lowes)
According to the current AA tables, the cost of driving a car, including fuel, tyres, maintenance and assuming an average 10,000 miles a year, is about 18 pence per mile.
Readers will note this is considerably less than the 60 pence per mile quoted by the SNP MSP candidate for Shetland, Danus Skene, in reports published by The Shetland Times.
That 60 pence per mile figure includes standing charges, including the depreciation on the value of your car from its original cost allowing for how many miles per year you drive and the as-new cost of your car.
So, using those same AA tables, but just for mileage costs in fuel, tyre wear, maintenance and not inflating it with depreciation and standing charges, the true cost of a journey is much more like 18 pence per mile, not 60 pence per mile. Diesel costs are a fraction less, petrol costs a fraction more, but 18p is a good either/or figure to use.
The distance between Lerwick and Aberdeen is 210 miles, so if I was able to drive my old Swedish Brick over the sea to Aberdeen, my travel costs at 18 pence per mile would work out at £37.80. That should be a Road Equivalent Tariff for a car shipped on the ferry to or from Aberdeen and Lerwick.
The cost of shipping a car via NorthLink in 2016 is somewhat higher than that. The cost would be £109 in the “low season” and a staggering £146 in “peak season”, a charge that hardly encourages visitors to bring their cars with them.
The RET charge of £37.80 for a car compared with either £109 or £146 is a no brainer.
I have not included any fares for driver or passenger. That is because when I drive my car somewhere, I go along free of charge and I don’t charge my passengers for the privilege either.
However, on the boat we are travelling overnight, so on top of the car fare in 2016 we might choose to pay a further £23 minimum, each, for a berth in a shared four-berth cabin, more in peak time at £36.50 in peak season.
Alternatively you could take a reclining seat for £3.50 or a sleeping pod for just £18. However, you choose to spend the night, you could still travel at more affordable rates than we can now.
The Scottish government should either be looking again and urgently, at how it plans to introduce RET to the Shetland ferry service to slash the charges that are currently making travel to and from Shetland so expensive and rising every year.
Or it can explain why Shetland (and Orkney) is being discriminated against by omission, when it has introduced RET to the islands of the west coast of Scotland – but not here.