The DEMOCRAT

MSP meets transport bosses for Kilcreggan Ferry talks

Kilcreggan ferry

Ferry services to the Rosneath Peninsula are disrupted.

Local MSP Jackie Baillie has welcomed Strathclyde Partnership for Transport’s decision to move ahead with the tender for a new contract to run the Kilcreggan – Gourock ferry service.

The announcement follows a meeting between Jackie Baillie MSP and SPT on Monday and it is believed that the tender document could be published as early as this week.

The new contract would be active from July 2018 but the Helensburgh and Lomond MSP has urged SPT to continue to take more direct action in the short term to improve services, including further action against Clydelink for its recent failures.

Jackie said: “This was a positive and constructive meeting and I am pleased that SPT had already started work on a new tender for the Kilcreggan ferry service. I would expect SPT to do everything it can to actively encourage bids from a range of companies because passengers are sick to their back teeth with Clydelink.

“It was clear that the Chair of SPT, Cllr Martin Bartos, shares our frustrations about the recent problems and I will work closely with him to ensure that the concerns of local passengers are heard loud and clear.

“I believe that the option of cancelling the current contract should be kept under review because we cannot afford to let Clydelink off the hook for their incompetence. I therefore made it clear that SPT should seek to make contingency plans with other local operators to secure continuity of service in the event of cancellation.”

Cllr Martin Bartos, chairperson of SPT, said: “I share the frustrations regarding the poor reliability in recent months and I agreed with Jackie Baillie that the situation has been unacceptable for travellers. The contract with the current operator is due to end in June 2018 and SPT will issue a tender document very soon which will hopefully attract interest from a range of operators.

“In the meantime, SPT is focused on getting a better service for travellers and staff have engaged Murray Cormack Associates to undertake regular checks of the vessel and crew to ensure that any deficiencies are reported both to Clydelink and SPT.”

At Holyrood last week, Jackie Baillie questioned the SNP Economy Secretary, Keith Brown MSP, over the Scottish Government’s promise to assume control of the service.

The transfer has been delayed as a result of a ministerial review of EU regulations on ferry contracts but Mr Brown said that the transfer will require the SPT’s ‘active support’.

Alex Scott, Bus Services Manager at SPT, told Jackie Baillie during the meeting yesterday that Scottish Government officials had confirmed that SPT had already provided all the information requested for the transfer.

Jackie Baillie added: “Any suggestion that SPT is not fully behind handing over responsibility for the route to Transport Scotland is wrong. Everyone agrees that the Scottish Government should manage the Kilcreggan – Gourock Ferry Service as it does with other lifeline routes in the west of Scotland.

“The only delays we have experienced so far have been a direct result of the extension of the ferries policy review on EU regulations. As time drags on more and more passengers are getting frustrated so we must start making progress on the transfer.”

Rosneath Peninsula pictured from Helensburgh by Bill Heaney

Rosneath Peninsula pictured from high above Helensburgh.

 

 

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