Improved Ferry Service For Tiree
As An Tirisdeach goes to press this week, news is emerging of significant changes to the previously published CalMac draft timetable that was proposed for Oban-Coll-Tiree in 2016.
An Tirisdeach has spoken exclusively this morning to Community Councillor’s John MacCaskill, and Ian Gillies, who jointly look after transportation issues on Tiree Community Council. AnTirisdeach have also obtained a copy of the finalised summer 2016 timetable. Here is what John and Ian had to say to An Tirisdeach.
Q. Does the 2016 timetable make any improvements to the capacity problems that we have during the summer?
A. “Yes it certainly does. The timetable will have a peak period 25th June – 27th August and also an off-peak period. During the peak summer season period an additional MV Clansman sailing will operate on Saturdays, leaving Oban at 15.30 hrs and sailing directly to Tiree with an arrival time of 18.40. This will be a massive boost to clearing the weekend congestion that we have been seeing over the peak summer weekends. Also the Clansman will operate on Sundays and Mondays, rather than the LOTI, and this gives us additional capacity on those days”.
Q. There was a lot of anger on Tiree & Coll that the `Barra Link’ on a Thursday was proposed to be cancelled?
A. “We most certainly understood the public’s frustration with the loss of the Barra link, and we have managed to negotiate reinstatement. It will now operate on a Wednesday rather than a Thursday”.
Q. What about an early Friday departure from Oban to allow people to get away for the weekend? This was previously cancelled.
A. “Again, we have managed to convince Transport Scotland of the importance of this to Tiree. The early Oban Friday departure at 06.15 hrs will now operate during the off-peak period, and will leave Oban at 07.15 hrs during the peak summer period”.
Q. This looks like an excellent outcome for Tiree, but did the public have any say in the negotiations you had with Transport Scotland?
A. “We have both spoken about our strategy at every Community Council meeting, but most importantly, the public helped us by giving us their views in writing, on our online survey, and at Community Council meetings. The Tiree Transport Forum also gave us strong support and guidance on our key objectives. This all provided a compelling and coherent community backed set of proposals to take to Transport Scotland and the Transport Minister, and we are more than delighted that the Minister agreed with our arguments”.
Q. So what next? Does this achieve everything that we want for Tiree?
A. “Along with the improved Glasgow-Tiree air service, and the Oban-Tiree air service, we believe that these improvements to our ferry service in 2016 are more in line with what we expect for a modern transport infrastructure. Longer term, we will face problems of an ageing fleet and so vessel replacement will move up our agenda. In the meantime, this is truly a big day for the Tiree Community and for those who travel to our island, particularly with regards to the known travel restrictions we’ve all had to endure for many a year over the peak summer period. We should all look forward to the social and economic benefits that will come our way from next summer, following these important improvements and the sound judgement of the Transport Minister”.