Ferry fares to be frozen

Fares on the Northern Isles ferry services will be frozen as work to ultimately cut ticket  prices continues, the Scottish government’s Transport Minister, Humza  Yousaf, has announced.

Transport Scotland says prices will be kept on hold for 2017 as the SNP government works towards reducing fares in the Northern Isles network.

Future fare levels are already being considered as part of the STAG study into the Northern Isles ferry services.

However, a further report has been commissioned to look specifically at the issue of a new fares policy for the network.

The Scottish government says consultation will be a “key part” of the work being undertaken, to better understand local views.

Mr Yousaf is visiting Orkney and Shetland, hearing more about the “opportunities and challenges” of island life.

Mr Yousaf said: “We want these vital services to continue to be accessible and affordable, so keeping ticket prices on hold next keeping ticket prices on hold next year will help achieve that.

“We have made a key commitment to cut fares on ferry services to the Northern Isles and we  continue to work towards that goal.  I have  commissioned a study to look specifically at fares on Northern Isles routes, with a view to bringing in a new pricing
policy and ultimately reducing the cost of ferry travel.

“The Northern Isles present a number of  challenges for a new fares policy. As we have said before, bringing in Road Equivalent Tariff would significantly increase the ticket prices on the majority of services. The presence of a commercial operator on some routes complicates matters.

“So I will be asking my officials to engage and meet with the local councils, elected members,  community  groups  and  other  key   stakeholders  to  discuss  the  potential options available to us.

“The  Scottish  government  is  committed  to  empowering  our  island  communities, which is why I’m meeting with local people to discuss the issues that really matter to people living and working on Scottish Islands.

“Last year’s Islands Bill consultation sought views on island-­proofing, additional powers for island  councils and the introduction of a National Islands Plan, and the views expressed are currently under consideration.”

However, the announcement has been given a mixed reaction by local politicians.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott says passengers will be “desperately disappointed” that promised cuts to fares by the SNP in the run-up to the Scottish elections have not been delivered.

“The ferry service to Aberdeen is our lifeline – our motorway to the Scottish mainland. More than 3,000 local people have supported a petition that asked the SNP to maintain their election commitment to ferry fare cuts made with great fanfare by Nicola Sturgeon in Lerwick in April.

“This has now been abandoned. Islanders will not forget that the SNP cut ferry fares on Scotland’s west coast by 50 per cent. We are all asking why the Northern Isles are not getting the same. I do not find this announcement fair, reasonable or in any way acceptable.”

Shetland Islands Council’s political leader, Gary Robinson, welcomed the news.

“A freeze on the cost of ferry travel will obviously have a positive impact for both private and commercial users and is a worthwhile step in the right direction.

“The Commission on Tackling Inequalities confirmed that transport is a significant factor in the high cost of living on our islands and creates barriers to travel for many. We’re pleased to note that the Scottish government has reiterated its commitment to cutting ticket prices and look forward to seeing this process through.

“A considerable amount of work has already been done by Shetland and Orkney Islands Councils, the Regional Transport Partnerships and Our Islands Our Future, together with Transport Scotland, to get us to this stage. I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to those joint efforts and look forward to seeing that positive relationship continue.”

Mr Yousaf is due to take a trip round the North Mainland tomorrow afternoon to view oil and gas-related developments at Sullom Voe, before heading up to Yell on-board one of the council’s ferries for a meeting with representatives from islands community organisations and businesses.

On Thursday, the Minister will visit the site of the new Anderson High School and Halls of Residence, before meeting with Lerwick Port Authority and external transport stakeholders.


Add Your Comment
  • John Tulloch

    • August 2nd, 2016 10:47

    Shetland/Orkney ferry fares have been rising steadily and have now been frozen – meanwhile fares on west coast ferry routes have halved.

    And there was I, thinking the reason we all needed independence was so we would enjoy a “fairer Scotland’ under the SNP?

    • Brian Smith

      • August 2nd, 2016 18:04

      I’m going for what the SNP has come up with, rather than what the Lib-Dems/Wir UKIP are offering.

      • Robert Sim

        • August 3rd, 2016 11:58

        They aren’t offering anything, are they, Brian? Oh, I see! You are being ironic.

      • Duncan Simpson

        • August 3rd, 2016 17:07

        We are offering the chance to be free from unfair/poor decisions made from Westminster and Holyrood. Of which this is a perfect example.

        Interesting to see we are now being branded as Wir UKIP, I assume due to our opposition to EU membership (a view which we have held since the outset). In the past year we have been accused of being a Tory plot, then Wir Unionists, then an offshoot of the Lib Dems and finally now as being associated with UKIP. What next I wonder?

        Funnily enough none of the above are remotely true. Perhaps the reason our opponents can’t settle on an insult is because they have absolutely no idea of the motives of the vast majority of our members. Believe it or not we share a belief that Shetland should have self governance, that is the common thread, nothing to do with the UKs political parties.

      • Robert Sim

        • August 4th, 2016 5:17

        Thanks, Duncan – and perhaps there should be no below-the-belt comments. However I remain puzzled as to how WS intends to achieve its aims except through candidates standing for election. Perhaps you have that in hand.

      • John Tulloch

        • August 4th, 2016 10:02

        Indeed, Duncan, the wheel has turned ‘full circle’ – “UKIP” was where they started and now we’re back to that.

        It’s a shame, you’d like to think that people who purport to be intellectuals, between them, teaching children, re-interpreting history and pontificating about how Shetland schools should be run, would be able to come up with arguments a bit more edifying than, simply, name-calling.

        I’m afraid that’s the nationalists’ stock-in-trade, they have nothing else to work with in Shetland. The SNP’s track is that bad.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 4th, 2016 18:41

        ‘Our opponents have absolutely no idea of the motives of the vast majority of our members’,… LOL,.. You got that right Duncan, I’m still scratching my head?


        ‘Believe it or not we share a belief that Shetland should have self governance, that is the common thread, nothing to do with the UK’s political parties’.

        Despite backing Tavish Scott representing an…erm… ‘UK political party?’.. Well!… Glad you made that clear. ????

      • ian tinkler

        • August 5th, 2016 12:27

        My goodness, Robin Stevenson, just how slow on the uptake can you be? How many times do you need to be told exactly why Wir Shetland endorsed Tavish Scott. I would respectfully suggest you read a few past letters from myself and others. If that is out with your intellect, perhaps you should concentrate on cutting hair. That said, the important thing is alongside Wir Shetland, the vast majority of Shetlanders also endorsed Tavish.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 5th, 2016 14:11


        I have no issue with any individual that chooses to back Tavish [or anyone else for that matter] but any group claiming that they don’t back any political party, only to endorse an MSP/MP from a political party kinda makes a nonsense of their claim. The reason that group claims for doing so is somewhat irrelevant, the fact remains that he represents a UK political party, as such, his loyalties lie with his party… Simples really!

      • Alistair & Jane Inkster

        • August 5th, 2016 23:06

        So Wrobin you will agree danus would be representing the SNP and not Shetland as he claimed during the election?

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 7th, 2016 18:16

        Alistair & Jane Inkster

        Of course Danus would be acting in the best interests of Shetlanders? That’s the entire reason why anyone would choose their own particular political party – as they see fit – best serves those interests. Tavish is tied [through the Lib/Dems] to their UK agenda, therefore he can only serve the people of Shetland as long as it comply’s with whatever the UK government decide. Danus would do exactly the same, under the belief that an independent Scottish government best serves Shetlanders outwith the UK.

        But the question here was about an organisation claiming that they weren’t political, but was affiliated to and promoted a political party. Whether it was the Lib/Dems OR indeed the SNP, makes no difference, you cannot claim not to be political and then actively endorse a representative of a political party, was the point I was making.

      • John Tulloch

        • August 8th, 2016 9:30

        Robin Stevenson, had the only specifically pro-Shetland political group, Wir Shetland, seen it in Shetland’s interest to back Danus Skene instead of Tavish, you would not be ‘greetin your een oot’, now.

        Do you never tire of spouting such drivel as you’ve done above?

        Do you imagine Shetland voters are too dull to see through you and your pathetic obfuscation at every turn?

        Does the SNP hierarchy NEVER stop and think, “We MUST win that place, maybe we should call a halt to Stevenson’s wittering and start listening to the concerns of their specifically pro-Shetand political group, who, after all, have FAR MORE MEMBERS THAN US?”

        “Why on earth would they support Tavish Scott, instead of US?”

        Think Nicola and Humza Yousaf, the “Send in the Clowns” policy of Salmond and Mackenzie was crushed at the election, you need to start listening or you will lose Shetland forever.

      • ian tinkler

        • August 8th, 2016 10:03

        “you cannot claim not to be political and then actively endorse a representative of a political party, was the point I was making.” Wrong again Robin Stevenson, now get your foot out of your mouth!! The SNP has welcomed the support of 200 business leaders who have signed a statement endorsing the re-election of Alex Salmond as First Minister.

      • Robert Sim

        • August 8th, 2016 10:54

        Trying to re-write history, John? You describe WS as a “political” group but from the very start we have been told that WS is non-political. You can’t have it both ways.

        You then go on to say that then SNP should “…start listening to the concerns of their specifically pro-Shetland political group…”. How many opportunities were passed up by WS during the last Scottish election to talk to not only the First Minister but indeed the SNP candidate? And if you support the LIbDem candidate, why on earth should you expect the SNP to talk to you? Presumably anyway the MSP is representing WS’s interests in Holyrood, so nothing to worry about. Maybe the Chair of WS will come on here and clarify it all.

      • Ali Inkster

        • August 8th, 2016 15:20

        An Wrobin if Danus had even the first thought for Shetland over his prefered (this time) party he wouldn’t have had his picture taken before Scalloway castle, a lasting symbol of scoti oppression in these isles.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 8th, 2016 15:54


        Did you miss the bit where I said:

        ‘Whether it was the LIb/Dems OR indeed the SNP, makes NO difference?’…

        It would seem that your fervent anti-SNP stance, has clouded your ability to think straight? Could I suggest you actually read my post [properly this time] instead of going off on some petulant tantrum?…


        I’m sorry, but you’ve lost me with your link to an Alex Salmond story from 2011?… Like John, are you too confused?

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 8th, 2016 16:30


        You forgot to mention the Viking parliament found recently on the Island of Bute [Rothesay] should I too be outraged at the oppressive Vikings on the ‘Scotti?’


      • Duncan Simpson

        • August 8th, 2016 17:30

        Without wanting to be dragged in to a slagging match I will say the following. We have always been a “political” group in so far as we are campaigning to influence politicians and voters as well as pushing for a change in the political landscape. Nowhere in our constitution does it state we are “non-political”.

        We are multi-party insofar as we have (and welcome) members who support a variety of different parties. As has been explained repeatedly we took the decision to support Tavish Scott for the Scottish Elections in May because we believed him to be the best candidate for Shetland. It was a one off endorsement.

        We do not and have never offered blanket support to ANY of the UK political parties. That election is long past now so I suggest people get over it and focus on the future.

      • ian tinkler

        • August 8th, 2016 19:28

        Sorry Robin, if my words are is out with your understanding. Ask someone with a higher education to explain it to you. Now this blog is about Ferry fares, the bottom line being, the SNP/ Sturgeon /Skene told a lie to Shetlanders. They have reneged on a promise. Do you understand that? Tt really does not take a great intellect. http://www.shetnews.co.uk/images/exchange/tower/election_2016_skene_160407.jpg

      • Ali Inkster

        • August 8th, 2016 19:47

        I suppose a democratic process like a Norse Althing existing anywhere would outrage a snp acolyte, far less one so close to home.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 8th, 2016 22:31


        I thank for the clarification. There was obviously a considerable amount of confusion over how WS stood politically, on one hand we had Mr Tulloch telling us WS were NOT political, and now we’re informed, actually WS ARE political.

        Your ‘multi party’ all encompassing statement, however, still leaves me somewhat confused. Surely, IF [as you maintain] that you welcome all members from all parties, it may be prudent to ask some of your members to ease off a tad on the anti-SNP front, and perhaps the odd mention or two of what your ‘one off endorsement’ has failed to achieve? Or does Tavish get it right every time, and the SNP are just perceived as the enemy regardless?


        The Scottish government was elected last year, they are freezing the price of ferry travel until 2017, in 2018 the contract will go out to tender, IF Cal Mac’s tender is successful [and on time] this time, I’d imagine negotiations to bring ferry fares down at that point would be in the offing. I hate to point out the obvious, but IF you ever manage to stop spouting your usual guff and think about it logically, what better time?

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 9th, 2016 9:53

        Hardly Ali

        I believe in the ‘democratic process’, I also believe in the democratic will of the people, and besides, I’m rather proud of my Viking heritage. ????

      • ian tinkler

        • August 9th, 2016 12:22

        The bottom line being, the SNP/ Sturgeon /Skene told a lie to Shetlanders. They have reneged on a promise. . Me, “Spouting the usual guff”, Robin, It was Nicola who lent her face to a common lie here for all to see. No ifs or buts, just a simple lie..

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 10th, 2016 11:52


        Have the SNP finished their term? Did they stipulate exactly when these reductions would take place? Your incessant griping over the fact that the SNP haven’t already brought the price of ferry fares down in the whole THREE MONTHS that they’ve been in power is idiotic. Perhaps in another 3 -4 years, IF there has been no reduction by then, you’d be justified, but in the meantime, give it a rest, for goodness sake.

      • Ali Inkster

        • August 10th, 2016 22:26

        “THREE MONTHS”? Try their THIRD TERM Wrobin! When falling for the free beer tomorrow nonsense of the snp how long before folk realise tomorrow never comes. Better aff clear a da lot a dem.

      • ian tinkler

        • August 10th, 2016 22:40

        “Perhaps in another 3 -4 years” before a possible fare cut!! Really Robin Stevenson? Strange that only now the SNP mouth makes that point. Perhaps during the election campaign may have been a better time. Nine years of SNP dictate already and now another 3 to 4 years of fudge and lie. Hardly surprising Shetland so rejected the SNP. It augers well for Wir Shetland, the SNP/SG are proving themselves useless and disingenuous for Shetland and leaving the door wide open for a real change towards an autonomous Shetland. Another misjudgement from the Nationalists, you are alienating Shetland folk, try now for independence, Shetland will never follow Scotland into an Indyref2. Ask Skene what Shetland thought of Sturgeon a few months back, they care even less for her now.

      • Brian Smith

        • August 11th, 2016 15:46

        But Ali – surely ‘free beer tomorrow’ is exactly what the Lib Dems/Wir Ukip are promoting!

  • Robin Stevenson

    • August 2nd, 2016 12:16

    Poor Tavish still doesn’t know the difference between a day journey crossing and an overnight journey with sleeping accommodation. Much like his insistence that the Scottish government should apply RET to Shetland crossings before it was explained [time and time again] that it would have worked out MORE expensive. The Scottish government already contribute £300 per passenger on Shetland crossings. Comparing 50% discount for Western Isles crossings are like comparing apples with pears, ie: they don’t get anywhere close to £300 discount per passenger.

    • Duncan Simpson

      • August 2nd, 2016 18:07

      Robin do you think the fares are fair and affordable? That is the main issue here. What funding formula you apply is beside the point.

      Ironic you say about comparing apples with pears then in the next breath compare the two discounts per passenger. So what if the Shetland route is more expensive to subsidise? Of course this will be the case since it is a longer, overnight crossing.

      You cannot squirm around the fact that all other routes have seen reductions while we have seen increases in the same time period.

    • fraser cluness

      • August 2nd, 2016 19:22

      You telling me that my £600 ferry bill at Easter should be £900? I could fly to America for that!
      sounds someone is ripping someone off

    • Darren Johnson

      • August 4th, 2016 9:24

      Robin, if you could point me to where the £300 figure per passenger comes from I would be interested to read it. I’m hoping its not just a crude figure based on government subsidy divided by the population of the isles.

    • Robin Stevenson

      • August 4th, 2016 18:32


      Personally, I think the cost of travelling by ferry to Shetland is extortionate. But let’s remember that the terms of the NorthLink contract – which the now whinging Mr Scott signed off himself as the minister responsible in 2005 – ferries costing £100m will cost over £243m over 20 years because of the terms of the financial leasing arrangement by his government. So it’s a bit rich when he comes on here and complains about the price of ferry crossings, who do you think has to pay for this contract?

      ‘Other routes’ aren’t tied into a 20 year useless contract costing £millions in Scottish government subsidies each year, thanks to yer man Duncan. ‘Apples and pears’, get it yet?

      • Ali Inkster

        • August 5th, 2016 18:31

        Tavish wis young an new ta da job, and he was yet to realise that whatever he did he was tied by eu law and central belt bias leaving wis we unsuitable boats and central belt bankers reaping the profit. This is yet more evidence that we need autonomy more than we need Scotland/UK/EU

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 9th, 2016 20:05

        What a poor excuse for botching Shetland’s ferry contract Ali, Is that really the best you can do? Can we excuse him too for the astronomical cost of building the Scottish parliament? Or what about our PFI [falling down] schools, costing us £millions over the term of those ridiculous contracts? Or even the Edinburgh tram fiasco that his government signed off? Shall we just put them all down to ‘inexperience’ then? There was NO EU law stating that you must obtain the worst leasing arrangements on the planet, that was entirely at the discretion of the Lib/Lab government that we’ll STILL be paying off for the next 30 years.

        That’s part of the reason why it sickens me when he comes on here complaining about ‘We need more money for whatever’…, Perhaps IF we weren’t obliged to pay for all his and Labour’s past mistakes for years to come, there WOULD be more money available to spend on the very things he now complains about.

      • John Tulloch

        • August 10th, 2016 10:20

        Robin Stevenson,

        Whatever the shortcomings of the ferry contract may or may not have been, it appears that nine years of SNP government have done nothing to sort it out.

        The SNP has been in charge since 2007.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 10th, 2016 21:34


        Which part did you miss?… We’re STILL paying for the ridiculous lease arrangements and contracts created by the Lib/Dems and Labours administration, and shall be for the next 30 years.

        Come, 2018 – when ferry contracts will be tendered – will be the ideal time to re-negotiate pricing, meanwhile – of course – we’re still stuck, paying out £millions per year on duff past deals created by none other than your ‘one off endorsement’ politician & friends…So well done you, and good choice WS!.. ????

  • Derick Tulloch

    • August 2nd, 2016 12:30

    Tavish is a pure ray a sunshine, so he is.

  • John Tulloch

    • August 2nd, 2016 17:01

    Oh, look, here come Robin Stevenson and Derick Tulloch with the excuses – and the post-election sour grapes!

    Thank you, no, guys, … I’m full up, … honestly!

  • ian tinkler

    • August 3rd, 2016 20:24

    Well they were re-elected, where are the cuts? Typical SNP, some promise!!!

    • fraser cluness

      • August 4th, 2016 18:45

      Don’t think that counts as the SNP may only help if you vote them in, as we didnt then we might not get all that was offered?

      Maybe next time we might get someone worth voting for?

      any news on what that extra £300 was for yet?

    • Steven Jarmson

      • August 5th, 2016 10:21

      Perhaps there should be a “Barnet formula” for Shetland.
      The Scottish Central Belt Government should hand over all monies to our council and let them decide where it is spent.
      This would include full powers over the ferry contacts, flight contracts and no ring fenced money for anything.
      Shetland genuinely is different from any mainland area of Scotland and we have very different needs and wants.
      But one desire we do share with the rest of our Colonist cousins south of Fair Isle is to be treated equally and fairly.

  • Sandy McDonald

    • August 5th, 2016 10:33

    I travelled South this summer with the family (four of us). Including the car and cabin it cost £656 return (although that included £46 each way for the Magnus Lounge). That is pretty expensive just to get to the mainland. Although I have to admit we are so used to paying though the nose to leave Shetland we barely comment these days.

    • Brian Smith

      • August 5th, 2016 15:41

      I went to Orkney by boat two weeks ago. It cost me less than a taxi from Lerwick to Weisdale.

      • Ali Inkster

        • August 5th, 2016 23:02

        Yeah Brian but da Taxi driver kent de. 🙂

      • Bill Adams

        • August 6th, 2016 12:03

        That is an interesting point, Brian.
        The basic foot passenger fare (“steerage”) is quite cheap.
        What puts up the cost are the “hotel charges”- food, drink and a berth.
        All the above are reduced by Islander Discount of course.
        Paying for the Magnus Lounge is an optional luxury extra.
        It seems to me that the real expense is taking a car on the trip.

      • Michael Garriock

        • August 6th, 2016 22:10

        Brian, you mosta rowed.

      • Brian Smith

        • August 7th, 2016 13:37

        Boat, Lerwick to Kirkwall £15.
        Taxi, Lerwick to Weisdale £23.50
        I have been trying to persuade the ghastly colonising SNP government to retrospectively subsidise my mince and tatties on the boat, but they are resisting.

      • ian tinkler

        • August 8th, 2016 9:19

        Steerage, Take more water with it, Bill Adams, you parroting nonsense yet again, or perhaps still living in the past. ([from its originally being located near the rudder] : a section of inferior accommodations in a passenger ship for passengers paying the lowest fares (Third Class)}
        Steerage (or Tween Decks) and Third Class was the default choice of many immigrants from the 1850s through the 1930s.

      • fraser cluness

        • August 9th, 2016 9:58

        ….. and if you were a bad sailor, what would a cabin be to Orkney? and if you wanted to take your car. No one is saying the foot passenger rate it too high, id say its too low, it should be higher and cabins should be lower, but its if you want a cabin or take a car that makes the price rocket.

        I’ve heard cases that a days begging in Aberdeen can get you on the boat to Shetland to possibly arrive at our social work and council housing departments door.

      • Brian Smith

        • August 9th, 2016 12:21

        Fraser, I’ve heard that too long poring over the Daily Mail can make your brain atrophy.

      • Johan Adamson

        • August 15th, 2016 16:59

        So you didnt need a cabin on the overnight way back?

        We’ve just been to Orkney too. Family of 4, return, car, cabin on way back £350 approx. I dont expect them to pay for my food but you NEED a cabin overnight and most efficient way for family to travel is by car. No public transport Hatston to Dounby at 11 pm either going or coming back.

    • fraser cluness

      • August 5th, 2016 16:24

      I did the same, one person, cost £590 me and car at Easter, heck of a price to pay to just get to Aberdeen. acorging to the SNP this is afordable and we should be glad we are not charged the extra £300 substacy

  • John Tulloch

    • August 9th, 2016 9:14

    Here’s why Wir Shetland supported Tavish Scott and not Danus Skene and the “Simply No Prospect” party, he’s fighting for his constituents:


    Pity the council can’t do the same. What does OIOF have to say about our ferry fares?

    • James Watt

      • August 9th, 2016 16:21

      By fighting for his constituents do you really mean looking for a willing mouthpiece like the Scotsman to produce an article that won’t make the slightest bit of difference to us, while the Scottish Government and SIC hold talks to see what they can actually achieve towards reducing ferry fares.

      I’m assuming he just forgot to mention the talks that have taken place so far, maybe it’s because that doesn’t fit with his and your narrative of SNPbad, in fact the comments from those involved in the discussions on Shetlands behalf seem quite positive, have a listen yourself, from 19 minutes 30 seconds in to the soundcloud link, perhaps you can tell us why Wir Shetlands man isn’t representing his constituents needs at these talks?


      • John Tulloch

        • August 9th, 2016 19:58

        James Watt, I don’t know whether you live in Shetland or have cause to use the ferry often however the issue at stake is even-handed treatment in the allocation of subsidies and I think you’ll find that is not what is being discussed at the talks to which you refer.

        Personally, after more than three years and over a dozen “summits” involving SIC, OIOF and the Scottish Government, I am sick to the back teeth of hearing that such meetings have been “very positive”, for the simple reason that we have yet to hear of a single tangible benefit resulting from any of them.

        Brian Smith and Bill Adams insist we ungrateful wretches should go on foot or by bus/taxi, holidaying only at destinations available from Aberdeen Airport – “GO DIRECTLY TO THE AIRPORT. DO NOT PASS ‘GO’. DO NOT COLLECT £200!”

        So no visiting relatives in Ullapool or Dumfries while you’re Sooth.

        Only the rich – and west coast travellers – will drive from the islands in their socialist Scottish utopia, it seems?

      • Robert Sim

        • August 10th, 2016 6:37

        Thanks for the link, James, and for some facts. It’s interesting to hear Michael Craigie of the SIC point out that a bespoke fares model has to be developed for Shetland (because RET just doesn’t work on the Lerwick-Aberdeen route) and that the SIC and Transport Scotland are working together on that, backed of course by the ministerial commitment.

        Interesting also to hear Tavish’s demands for an instant reduction put into perspective: the work is intense, complex and is happening as fast as possible.

      • John Tulloch

        • August 10th, 2016 10:11

        Robert Sim,

        A “bespoke fares model” which halves the current fares will be fine, I agree.

        However, west coast ferry subsidies have soared since 2013 while Shetland/Orkney ones have shrunk.

        And if our fares are to fall, SOMEBODY WILL HAVE TO PAY. That is, the level of SUBSIDY MUST RISE.

        Correct me if I am wrong, that appears to be the elephant in the negotiations room.

        If a rise in Shetland/Orkney ferry subsidies to bring our fares into line with west coast routes, i.e. halving thereof, is being discussed, great, no-one will be more pleased than I.

        But have we grounds for such wild optimism?

      • Ali Inkster

        • August 10th, 2016 10:27

        the snp have been in power for a fair while now, they managed to sort out estern isles fares so an excuse about complexity is just that.

      • Michael Garriock

        • August 10th, 2016 12:09

        “Interesting also to hear Tavish’s demands for an instant reduction put into perspective: the work is intense, complex and is happening as fast as possible.”

        Robert Sim, just how “intense” and “complex” is the Scots Gov. writing a cheque to Northlink? Them finding the money will be their hardest job on that one.

        As for things “happening as fast as possible”, speed, is inextricably linked to and proportionate to “political will”. And with how this one has literally plodded along, burdened at every sign of movement by tons of “all talk and no action” waffle, its plain to see “political will”, were it a human, would be in intensive care and giving grave cause for concern.

        Any subsidy increase will be as little as they think they can get away with, and they will postpone delivering even that as long as they possibly can. We know this, this is how these things work. Only action will disprove it, and its too late for this one now anyway, as with their (in)actions to date, they’ve already proven themselves true to form.

      • ian_tinkler

        • August 10th, 2016 17:53

        “Transport Scotland says prices will be kept on hold for 2017” Come on, Robert Sim, just what is so intense and complex it takes 18 months of talking to reduce a Ferry Fair? Just another campaign lie from the SNP. Nice to have Sturgeon’s face on the poster, shows just what her words are worth.

      • John Tulloch

        • August 10th, 2016 21:04

        Absolutely, Michael Garriock. They can fund a fare reduction immediately by using some of this year’s underspend of their own grant from London.

      • Robert Sim

        • August 11th, 2016 2:42

        To John, Michael, Ali and Ian: this messenger is full of bullet-holes now 🙂

        Did you listen to the soundcloud link that James posted? The reality appears to be – and both Michaels are people of integrity – that real and positive work is going on and hopefully will bear fruit in the near future.

        Have you any alternative methods to suggest other than the SIC and Transport Scotland working together? Unfortunately, these things take time. But it appears to be happening. Putting party politics aside, something to be welcomed, surely?

      • Robert Sim

        • August 11th, 2016 11:54

        I posted a reply to John, Michael, Ali and Ian earlier but it appears not to have been posted for some reason. I can summarise by saying that I am flattered that at least some of you appear to think I know what is going on in detail in the discussions between Transport Scotland and the SIC. But I don’t. I heard the same broadcast you did. The descriptions of things being “intense” and “complex” are my interpretations of what was said by the councillor and SIC officer.

      • Ali Inkster

        • August 11th, 2016 16:36

        ” SIC and Transport Scotland working together? Unfortunately, these things take time. ” Just not as much time for the western isles and west coast routes as it takes for the northern isles. And when they do finally come with a reduction likely just before an election are we supposed to fall over in gratitude?

      • John Tulloch

        • August 11th, 2016 18:33

        Yes, Robert, I did listen to the Soundcloud item and I don’t that creditable work is being done. Unfortunately, the real issue – unfair allocation of ferry subsidies – is not being addressed. Fares have been frozen for, at least, a year with no indication of how much they will be cut by or when.

        The suspicion is that SIC is being led down the garden path and the “freeze” on fares is simply designed to take us past next year’s council elections, following which the can will be kicked ever farther down the road. Robin Stevenson has confirmed this in his above comments about timescale of negotiations on fares.

        Michael Craigie claimed the work on fares would be completed by November, in which case, there will be no excuse for further obfuscation and delay beyond then.

        All that said, there is no reason why an immediate fare price cut cannot be implemented using funds available from annual underspends of the SNP Scottish government’s annual funding from London.

    • Bill Adams

      • August 9th, 2016 16:46

      Perhaps, John, you can (on behalf of Tavish) explain to me why a family flying out to the Mediterranean
      on holiday from Aberdeen airport need to take a car on the boat. There is a perfectly good bus service out to the airport.

      • ian tinkler

        • August 9th, 2016 18:36

        What a daft question Bill, perhaps they thought a bus a bit large to put on the plane! lol

    • Bill Adams

      • August 10th, 2016 12:45

      Tavish Scott “fighting for his constituents”. Don’t make me laugh, John.
      All Tavish is doing is posturing to give the illusion that he is achieving something.
      He is no longer Transport Minister and is in no position to deliver anything.
      All he IS doing is putting people’s backs up instead of being constructive.

  • Linsey Nisbet

    • August 9th, 2016 9:44

    Once more, a group of guys appear to be using this facility as a platform for back-biting and nasty, personal comments! How annoying!
    I would just like to say that I think our actual ferry fares are very reasonable indeed. £15 to get to Orkney …. amazing! What is unacceptable to me is the cost of a cabin on board. If I was to pay £100+ per night for a hotel room I would expect a pretty high standard of accommodation. I would expect more than a tiny room with two small beds, a tiny bathroom with a clinging shower curtain and no television. For that price in a hotel I should be guaranteed a very fine room with the best of facilities. This is where Northlink is overcharging us, I think. Bring down the cost of the cabins….after all, we really cannot travel to Aberdeen without one.
    This is also why we cannot really compare our ferries with these of the Western Isles. There is no route there which makes an overnight trip, I don’t think. And actually, when travelling on these ferries, I have been surprised at the high cost of the actual fare.
    I think we should simply be asking for cabin prices on our ferries to be lowered to reflect the standard of accommodation we are being offered.

    • ian tinkler

      • August 10th, 2016 22:59

      “This is also why we cannot really compare our ferries with these of the Western Isles.” Linsey Nesbit, whatever the journeys length is irrelevant, how come 50% fare cut for the Western Isles and nothing for Shetland? Especially after a pre-election promise from Sturgeon for a fare cut. As a “Nationalist Yes Shetland” website blogger said, the SG should now punish Shetland for not voting for Skene, maybe that’s Sturgeon way, it certainly looks like that from Shetland! The bottom line, ” IF REELECTED WE PROMISE TO CUT FARES FOR LIFELINE FERRY SERVICES. “ SNP statement.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 11th, 2016 19:21


        Both you and John haven’t addressed anything I’ve mentioned, why would that be? Does it not fit into your daily anti-SNP rant? Let’s try again. and this time I’d appreciate some answers:

        1. Who’s paying the extra £143 million for Tavish’s ferry contract over the next 20 years?
        2. Who’s paying for the Lib/Labs PFI contracts costing us £millions every year for the next 30 years, on schools and hospitals that’ll need renewed before they’re paid off? [unless they fall down first, ofc]
        3. Who’s paying for Holyrood, signed off by Lib/Lab initially costing £10ml – £40 million, finally costing £414 million and three years late?
        4. Who’s paying for the Edinburgh tram fiasco, initially costing £375 million and finally spiraling out of control, eventually costing £776 million and took 6 years for six miles, signed off by – none other than – the Lib/Lab government?
        5. Who increased the Shetland flight subsidy to 50%, up from 40%?

        Tell you what! You get yer man to pay off all his bad financial decisions, and we’ll throw the cost of ferry travel in for free…. Deal?

      • ian tinkler

        • August 12th, 2016 12:47

        Robin Stevenson, this blog is about ferry fares, nothing else. Now it is pointless to answer your silly digressions, they are not remotely relevant to Sturgeon’s campaign Vow and lie, “WE PROMISE TO CUT FARES FOR LIFELINE FERRY SERVICES.” http://www.shetnews.co.uk/images/exchange/tower/election_2016_skene_160407.jpg

    • David Spence

      • August 11th, 2016 20:58

      I agree with what you have said Linsey.

      However, one factor that nobody ever speaks about is the operator of the ‘ lifeline service ‘ controlled and run by Serco. Since Serco, started this service (under, I think, very dubious circumstances (a company which no experience gets the contract)) the cost of fares has gone up, the island allowance has been drastically reduced, the service overall has not improved that much (despite a so-called £1 million refit) and Serco, has probably been the company which has performed the worst in terms of sailing or delaying or leaving early at short notice than any previous company (nothing to do with the weather, more than likely, afraid of getting sued by a passenger for sailing in the slightest of windy conditions or the sea swell a little too high).

  • Wayne Conroy

    • August 9th, 2016 14:39

    Fraser Cluness… You say that they should raise the cost for foot passengers so that its cheaper for those with a car or those that choose to take a cabin. I don’t see why those without a car and prepared to “rough it” on the boat should help subsidise those who can’t or won’t. We don’t expect people to pay more for a lower level of service elsewhere (eg trains, airplanes, hotels) so those receiving a higher level of service can benefit – Why should the boat be any different?

    The kennels are a real problem however. Having recently travelled on the boat only to find my dog covered in other dogs filth when we left the vessel resulting in sores over my dog and a healthy vets bill. We pay for the kennels – its only right that these should be cleaned to a proper standard! When complaining about the state of the kennels I was informed “if you wish the kennels to be properly cleaned with bleach you need to phone ahead”. I guess we should just be glad the boat doesn’t do the same for humans!

  • Haydn Gear

    • August 9th, 2016 23:22

    Linsey Nisbet has hit the nail on the head. End of story.

  • ian tinkler

    • August 11th, 2016 20:40

    The Vow, Cameron kept his, The referendum, Scotland Independence. The Vow, Cameron kept his through the Smith Comision, more powers from the United Kingdom parliament to the Scottish parliament . The Vow, Cameron Kept his, the Brexit Referendun. The Vow, ” Sturgeon, “ WE PROMISE TO CUT FARES FOR LIFELINE FERRY SERVICES. “ Well, that was Sturgeons lie was it not!!! a bit like “Once in a Generation”. Typical SNP. It is good to see which politicians tell the truth!

  • John Tulloch

    • August 12th, 2016 10:04

    Robert Sim,

    The Shetland Times has reprinted your above falsehood in today’s paper:

    “Trying to re-write history, John? You describe WS as a “political” group but from the very start we have been told that WS is non-political. You can’t have it both ways.”

    Robin Stevenson added:

    “… on one hand we had Mr Tulloch telling us WS were NOT political, and now we’re informed, actually WS ARE political.”

    You both seem content for party politics to overrule any scruples you may have about distorting the truth.

    Copied from Wir Shetland’s launch presentation, Wednesday, 14th, October, 2015:


    * Multi-party campaign group
    * Members of all parties welcome to join
    * ……..
    * …….
    * Registering as a party and fielding our own candidates will be considered, if necessary.”

    As Wir Shetland chairman from launch until 5th May 2016, I am unaware of this ever being contradicted by me or any official WS source. i.e. it’s what you have been “told from the very start”.

    Will you and Mr Stevenson now withdraw your ‘re-writing of history” and apologise for misleading the public?

    • Robert Sim

      • August 12th, 2016 11:20

      I resent your use of the word “falsehood”, John, because that implies that I told a deliberate lie, which I did not. By “non-political” I meant that WS would not field candidates, which it hasn’t up to now; and that members of WS could still be members of political parties, which they can – something a normal political party wouldn’t allow. A “campaign group” is something quite different from a “political” group.

      “The public” – if they are interested – can read these exchanges for themselves and make up their own minds. You have made things clear from your point of view.

      • John Tulloch

        • August 12th, 2016 12:42

        Robert Sim,

        I resent YOUR and Robin Stevenson’s repeated misrepresentations of Wir Shetland and myself. The two of you have systematically propagated a falsehood, an untrue statement, without caring a fig whether it was true or not.

        You have misled the public and continue to disrupt this important debate on unfair ferry fares and subsidies.

        I too am happy for the public to decide on the basis of these exchanges, the purpose of my last comment was to show up the pair of you for what you are doing.

        Is this really the best defence available for SNP transport policy in Shetland? If not then let’s hear a better one.

        Make of it what you will, for me, it’s back to ferry fares.

      • ian tinkler

        • August 13th, 2016 12:15

        No one accused you of lying, Robert Sim, A comments were a “falsehood”, certainly, may have easily been said in ignorance. [falsehood:ˈthe state of being untrue.]. . Now are you going to apologise or withdraw your previous fallacious statements?

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 13th, 2016 18:39


        Please spare us the faux outrage over whether WS is political or not, it was a somewhat confusing stance? I was merely looking for clarification, which has now been provided by Duncan Simpson, all you’re doing here is mudding the waters, so at least we now know [at last] it IS a political organisation… /phew!

        The important part of the conversation was about the price of ferry fares. As I’ve outlined above, there have been umpteen bad financial decisions made by your ‘one off endorsement’ Tavish, and his Lib/Lab government that we still pay for today and are stuck with over the next few decades. Unfortunately, [whether Ian likes it or not] they have a rather large bearing on how much is available in the kitty? Let’s imagine that the Scottish government didn’t have to pay the extra £143 million for the Shetland ferries leasing contract, we already know that the Scottish government subsidise Northlink £40.5 million pa, and £13.5 mil for interior ferries, do you think that may equate to a 50% discount then?

        IF neither these ferry companies come up with a better offer during the tendering process, perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere?


      • ian tinkler

        • August 14th, 2016 10:52

        So, Robin Stevenson, not enough money in the kitty! If that is so why did Sturgeon, Skene and Mackay make the hollow Vow, ““WE PROMISE TO CUT FARES FOR LIFELINE FERRY SERVICES.”. Are they just a bunch of common liars, or so utterly stupid they , after nine years of government, they were not aware of funds available?

  • Suzy Jolly

    • August 13th, 2016 0:28

    If Holyrood are so short of money that they can’t afford to cut the ferry fares now, perhaps if they curtailed Nicola’s trips to Brussels they might save a bob or two. After all, it might take a while to save up enough dosh to cut the ferry fares, given that the SNP have been in power for NINE YEARS … will it take a decade or a generation or another election to boot them out to cut ferry fares? Enquiring minds need to know. 😉

  • John Tulloch

    • August 14th, 2016 11:01

    The essence of the ferry fares issue is, simply, this:

    1. West coast ferry fares have halved while Shetland/Orkney fares continued to rise.
    2. While west coast fares halved, west coast subsidies increased by £36.5 million (41 percent) between 2013/14 – 2015/16.
    3. During the same period, Shetland/Orkney ferry subsidies decreased by £5.2 million (14 percent).

    (Scottish government ferry subsidy figures available at: http://forargyll.com/?p=103120 )

    This is the reason for the fares disparity and no amount of freezing fares and fiddling with the vessel/service specifications will rectify it. Such tactics serve merely to delay resolution of the issue.

    For parity with the west coast, Shetland/Orkney ferry users need an increase – now, today – of 41 percent of their original £37.5 million per year plus the £5 million-odd per year they have lost i.e. Shetland/Orkney ferry users are being short changed by a staggering £20.5 million every single year!

    Mr Yousaf must be helped to understand that ‘kicking the can’ past the 2017 council elections with a fare freeze will not cut the mustard.

    • Robin Stevenson

      • August 14th, 2016 12:48

      Once again John, you fail to see the big picture, ferries for Shetland are subsidised to the tune of £56 million pa, for two routes and 12 ships serving eight Islands, the 30 ferries travelling to 24 routes everywhere else in Scotland are subsidised by £70.3 million pa, care to do the math?

      Frankly, I think both ferry companies are ridiculously subsidised, if these ferries cannot make profit without such large subsidies, there has to be an overhaul of the entire ferry services throughout Scotland…. But the question remains, ‘are Shetland getting a raw deal?’ Statistically, no they’re not, subsidy wise? No they’re not, ‘are they being ripped off by excessive pricing by Northlink?’.. I hope you bothered to read my link? In 2011-12 Cal mac were subsidised 54% of gross revenue, but in the same year Northlink were subsidised a staggering 61% of gross revenue, I don’t have the up to date figures, but there is nothing to indicate that anything much has changed, and these ferry companies are STILL receiving substantially more subsidy than what they’re both capable of generating their own revenue.

      • ian tinkler

        • August 14th, 2016 13:27

        No bigger picture Robin, Just, Sturgeon, Skene and Mackay make the hollow Vow, ““WE PROMISE TO CUT FARES FOR LIFELINE FERRY SERVICES.”. They just a bunch of common liars!! That is all there is here.

      • John Tulloch

        • August 14th, 2016 15:28

        Robin Stevenson,

        I posted the Scottish government’s own figures, provided as the answer to a parliamentary question, what is the source of yours?

        Your problem is of your own making. As a ferry user, here’s mine:

        Since 2013, West coast fares have halved and subsidies increased by 41 percent to £126Mpa while Shetland/Orkney fares rose and subsidies fell 14 percent to £32Mpa.

        Northern routes require an increase of £20.5Mpa to restore parity.

      • Ali Inkster

        • August 14th, 2016 16:24

        How many routes and ferries are serving the northern isles to how many islands for what subsidy? Wrobin I would say your figures are so far out it can only be through ignorance of the facts and not some attempt to deceive.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 15th, 2016 13:41


        Could I suggest actually reading my link, [above] taken from a book written by Roy Pedersen entitled ‘Who pays the ferryman’, [a former officer of Highland and Islands enterprise and inventor of RET]

        If you think he’s wrong, perhaps he’d appreciate your infinite wisdom? After all, with a mere 40 years experience, what does he know? 🙂


        Could you please add the link to the ‘Scottish governments own figures’, all we have here is the bias forargyll website?

      • John Tulloch

        • August 15th, 2016 17:56

        Poor Robin Stevenson, getting desperate, clutching at straws.

        As a ferry user, here’s my problem:

        Since 2013, West coast fares have halved and subsidies increased by 41 percent to £126Mpa while Shetland/Orkney fares rose and subsidies fell 14 percent to £32Mpa.

        Northern routes require an increase of £20.5Mpa to restore parity.

        Source: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S4W-27940

        And the source of your figures is…..?

      • Ali Inkster

        • August 16th, 2016 17:13

        Wrobin, Shetland alone has 9 islands, Orkney 13 served by 21 ferries between them, this when added to the northlink fleet and the 3 routes served by them is a piece more than your claim. You do the math 🙂

  • ian tinkler

    • August 14th, 2016 12:49

    I think we will see again, the typical SNP lie or election bribe. Just before the next vote/election suddenly money will be promised or miraculously be found for a modest fare cut. So very typical of the SNP, they bring a whole new meaning to the words honesty and bribery!!

    • Ray Purchase

      • August 14th, 2016 23:58

      So if the Scottish government don’t reduce fares they’re going back on a promise but if they do reduce fares it’s just a bribe?

      • Robin Stevenson

        • August 15th, 2016 9:46

        Exactly Ray

        In Ian’s, John’s and Ali’s mind, the SNP Scottish government are damned if they do and ‘damned if they don’t’, meanwhile ofc, Tavish remains silent, hoping that folks forget all those duff contracts that Scottish taxpayers will be paying for the next few decades, while his enthusiastic team deflect away from him desperately…

      • ian tinkler

        • August 15th, 2016 19:25

        The bribe was just before the election. WE, Sturgeon, Skene and Mackay, PROMISE TO CUT FARES FOR LIFELINE FERRY SERVICES. The lie was they broke that vow and have not reduced fares by one penny. Perhaps they will , just before the next election.

    • Ray Purchase

      • August 16th, 2016 12:39

      Ian, it’s only 3 months since the election – do you honestly expect any government to achieve its aims that early into a 5 year term? If you expect everybody to work that fast then you need to be asking at the next WS meeting why Shetland hasn’t achieved autonomy at least 3 times since the groups inception.

      Also, the caps lock button is located next to the A key. Happy to help.

      • ian tinkler

        • August 16th, 2016 17:38

        A lie is a lie, Ray Purchase. Thatcher mobilised the whole of the UK armed forces in a matter of days after Galtieri attacked the Falklands, but then she was honest and had a spine! Sturgeon, however, has frozen fares for the whole of 2017, why does it take someone so long to do something as simple as reducing a ferry fare, Ray? Would that be just dishonesty, incompetence or plain stupidity, I will not hold my breath waiting for your answer to that question. My answer to it would, ” Sturgeon, Skene and Mackay statement :, ““WE PROMISE TO CUT FARES FOR LIFELINE FERRY SERVICES.”. They just a common lie. Just copying the SNP lie poster, Ray Purchase, that was upper case. Thanks for your help, publicity so useful.


      • Steven Toast

        • August 17th, 2016 8:28


        Yet again you fail to see the bigger picture. Ian is only telling it as it is.

        You assume Ian is using standard keyboard hardware, but if, for example, he is using an i-phone or such to type his comments, the Caps Lock key is indeed not next to the “A” key.


        Steven T.

  • Johan Adamson

    • August 15th, 2016 17:08

    I wonder why we have to pay for bairns to go on the boat. You dont pay pre school or after 16 when they become young scots but have to pay for those middle years. Kinda strange. If they didnt pay just think how many school, sports and cultural trips they could have. We’re going to need a bigger boat.

    No one is considering tourists in this either. Just look at how the Western Isles tourist trade has grown since the Skye bridge and cheaper ferries. And we need to increase our visitor numbers.


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