Politicians shocked at ‘eye-watering’ ferry fare hike.

Isles representatives have slammed transport bosses’ “greedflation” rise in ferry fares.

Alistair Carmichael MP and Beatrice Wishart MSP spoke out in condemnation of the Scottish government’s “eye-watering” NorthLink fare hike.

From April, fares on the Northern Isles ferry service will increase by 8.7 per cent.

Transport Scotland blamed the hike on UK government funding cuts and high inflation.

However, the Liberal Democrats have pointed out that the latest rate of inflation had fallen to 4.6 per cent.

Mr Carmichael said: “We have talked about ‘greedflation’ a lot in the context of the cost-of-living crisis but you do not expect it to come from our own public officials.

“It is hard to see how such an eye-watering fare hike – far above current inflation levels – is reasonable.

“This is price gouging by the SNP-Green Government, plain and simple.”

Ms Wishart added that while “hugely disappointing”, the fare hike came as “no surprise” from the SNP-Green Scottish government.

“Having frozen fares for four years, it was inevitable that when a price increase came it was going to be excessive,” she said.

“A hike of nine per cent from April is going to hugely impact Shetland residents and will be especially hard for people on fixed incomes.”

ZetTrans chairwoman Moraig Lyall was “shocked” by the scale of the increase.

“As household incomes continue to feel the pressure of rising costs this will be an unwelcome additional burden for families looking to travel,” she said.

“Our local industry already operates with significantly higher costs than the rest of the country so this just adds to their difficulties in remaining competitive or even viable in some cases.
“The SG fare review is due out soon and we need for it to address the issue of affordability for both individuals and businesses to protect jobs and households here in Shetland from the impacts this uplift will bring.”

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has also hit out at the hike.

“This is a significant cost increase coming during a time of squeezed household finances and embattled public services.,” he said.

“Islanders rely on these routes to see family and friends, to travel for work, to attend medical appointments – the very definition of lifeline routes.

“The Scottish Government should be doing everything they can to ensure journeys remain affordable.

“Instead, it has signed off on major price hikes and snuck out the news in the hope no-one would notice.

“Once again, this Scottish Government shows a clear disregard for the needs of islanders and our island communities.”

The Scottish government confirmed it had increased the fares earlier this week.

It said in a statement: “We have made significant investment in recent years to ensure that ferry fares are affordable, with fare freezes and the introduction of Road Equivalent Tariff.

“We invested in freezing ferry fares in 2023/24, rather than apply the contractual 9.1 per cent increase, in order to support island communities in Covid recovery and cost of living pressures.

“Over the period of the fares freezes, since 2019/20, the combined annual cost increase on Calmac and NorthLink has been £36 million.

“We know that this increase will be challenging for some as inflationary pressures continue on households, businesses and public services, but it comes against the backdrop of a real terms reduction in the total block grant from the UK government.”


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