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Cheaper fares lead to increase in travellers.
The introduction of cheaper ferry fares on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network has encouraged more people onto services, according to new research.
Analysis of the roll out of Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) to Islay, Colonsay and Gigha in 2012 shows an increase in passenger numbers and a rise in the number of visitors to the Islands.
Provisional analysis of the first year of RET on the routes to Arran shows more pronounced increases in passenger and car numbers.
Key findings include:
- Summer fares on Islay, Colonsay and Gigha routes fell by an average of 44% and 48% for passengers and cars respectively with the introduction of RET.
- Overall passenger numbers on Islay, Colonsay and Gigha routes increased by 8% over the first two years of RET.
- Overall car numbers on the Islay, Colonsay and Gigha routes increased by 18% over the first two years of RET.
- An additional 6,444 people visited Islay in the second year of RET.
- Provisional findings for Arran show a 10% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in cars in the first year of RET.
Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay said:
"These new figures are very encouraging as they show that Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) is doing exactly what we intended it to do.
"RET is designed to help promote our Islands by reducing the cost of ferry travel, making them more attractive to visitors and helping boost local economies in remote areas.
"Not only does this reduce the economic disadvantage faced by these communities, but it also enables the Islands to make a bigger contribution to Scotland's economic prosperity.
"Of course, the first full summer of RET across the entire Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network is still to come, so we will have a better idea of its overall impact after that is complete. However, I would expect to see increased passenger and car numbers across the network, as residents and visitors take advantage of lower fares.
"The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our island communities and the introduction of RET fares will ensure these lifeline ferry services remain affordable for the people that depend on them."
The analysis of RET's impact on the Islay, Colonsay and Gigha routes is available here: http://www.transport.gov.scot/water/ferries/road-equivalent-tariff
Previous analysis of RET's impact on the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree is also available here: http://www.transport.gov.scot/water/ferries/road-equivalent-tariff
The RET scheme involves setting ferry fares on the basis of the cost of travelling an equivalent distance by road.
RET was introduced for passengers, cars, small commercial vehicles and coaches on the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree in October 2008. It was rolled out to Islay, Colonsay and Gigha in October 2012 and to Arran in October 2014. It was then rolled out to the remaining Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services routes in October 2015.
Transport Scotland is currently conducting a review of commercial vehicle and freight fares, with the aim to deliver a new overarching freight fares structure during future Scottish Government ferry contracts.