Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is calling on CalMac to rethink plans to introduce levies on cancelled ferry bookings.
CalMac are considering introducing levies on booking cancellations which could mean deduction of 100% of the total vehicle fare if cancelled less than 24 hours in advance.
The level of deduction would reduce if cancelled with a longer time scale.
Mr MacNeil does not think levies are the answer at a time of increased household costs and at a time when the ferry network is regularly unreliable.
The impact of levies on constituents who are employed offshore and often must change travel plans at short notice should also be considered.
Mr MacNeil has urged CalMac to abandon this idea: “I have many concerns about this. Plans change for a myriad of reasons – such as one CalMac boat being late for another, even a flat tyre or a flat battery in a car – adding red tape hassle is the last thing we need.
“I do not believe that people should have to absorb these additional costs if they need to cancel a booking and particularly at a time when the cost of living is increasing. I highlighted the impact this would have on oil workers suggesting that oil workers are considered under exemptions.
“I have further pointed out to CalMac that if they do this, then customers should also be reimbursed if a sailing is cancelled as we cannot have the company using its power against the passenger. However, the extra hassle, work and resources for passengers and the company, makes all this a bad idea.
“There are far better ways of achieving demand management and I have again called on CalMac to look into introducing booking windows which could be done in such a way that 70% of the car deck would be released up to a month in advance, 20% up to a week in advance and the last 10% released on the week of sailing. There is no need for a new contract to bring in this change either, in my view it could be done tomorrow.
“I understand from CalMac that the exemption list is examples and that they are going to speak to the community groups to discuss these proposals. My short message to them is to save the hassle and scrap the idea.”