Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus NacNeil and MSP, Alasdair Allan, have today welcomed the decision by Transport Minister, Keith Brown, to introduce RET ferry fares on the Sound of Harris and Sound of Barra ferries from October 2015.

This move will mean that passengers, cars, small commercial vehicles, and coaches on all routes in the Western Isles and throughout the West of Scotland will benefit from cheaper ferry fares.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“I have raised the issue of fares on the Sound of Harris and Sound of Barra a number of times now with Transport Minister, Keith Brown, as mile for mile they are currently more expensive since RET was introduced on other ferry routes in the islands.

“Today’s announcement will end that anomaly and ensure better and more affordable transport links between our islands. The rollout of RET, which began in the Western Isles in 2008, will extend throughout all Calmac routes by next year, and I’m glad that this will include the two Sounds.  This further extension of RET represents a massive and welcome on-going investment by the Scottish Government in making our ferry services more affordable for islanders and tourists alike.”

Angus MacNeil commented:

“I welcome the announcement from Transport Minister, Keith Brown, that RET will be introduced on the Sound of Harris and Barra from October 2015.  “This is long overdue and I would like to see action on the 6 metre rule.

“RET on the Sounds of Harris and Barra should also relieve pressure on the ferry from Tarbert to Uig/Lochmaddy, with some operators telling me that it is cheaper to take a 6 metre vehicle from Harris to North Uist, via Uig than travel directly.  It is therefore important that some action is taken on the 6 metre rule prior to October 2015.

“With constraints on these ferries particularly in summer and with small business finding it hard to find 5 metre vans, it would be sensible in the meantime, before October 2015, to regularise the rules for 6 metre vans on the Sounds of Barra and Harris to the same rules as on the mainland ferries.”