Scottish ferries have a critical role in linking the Western and Northern Isles and Firth of Clyde into the public transport network, as well as providing essential access for road vehicles. Introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) on CalMac routes has introduced an element of logic into the fares structure, but there is evidence that the relative level of charges for vehicles and passengers has encouraged a shift towards more car traffic and less “classic” passenger travel by rail/bus and ferry.
This has three adverse effects:
Our recommendations for future ferry policy are:
Scottish ferries provide an unrivalled tourist experience which could be further developed by marketing combined rail+sail excursions.
Ship design should provide sufficient outdoor accommodation to allow visitors to enjoy the scenery.
Good and reliable public transport links with ferries are essential to encourage greater use of rail and bus connections. This scene at Brodick shows the popularity of connecting buses to other villages on the Isle of Arran. Good train connections from mainland railheads also help to reduce the pressure for space on car decks.