By Bill Heaney
A freeze on ferry fares for the Firth of Clyde and some of the country’s island communities has been extended, the Scottish government has announced.
Ticket prices on the Northern Isles, Clyde and Hebrides ferry networks will be held at current levels from October until March 2024.
The freeze was first introduced in January.
Separately, west coast ferry operator CalMac said its Lochboisdale service would resume on Friday.
The government said the fare freeze would help support communities that depend on “these vital services”.
The new transport minister, Fiona Hyslop, said ministers were “acutely aware” of the challenges facing island communities.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Ms Hyslop said the freeze was “good news” for islanders who had been hit especially hard by inflation and cost of living pressures.
She said: “That’s really important to help people particularly with the cost of living crisis and the impact.
“Overall the ferry service has been strong, and is strong but when there’s a withdrawal of a service that has major impacts.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Daily Express is reporting that new questions have been raised about the Scottish Government’s decision to push ahead with the construction of Hull 802 after it was revealed that they had not approached other shipyards for quotes about building a replacement.
Economy secretary Neil Gray announced last month he was using a rare ministerial directive to ignore civil servants who said it was not value for money.
The Hull 802 is the sister ship to the Glen Sannox, with both ferries currently being constructed at Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow. They are millions of pounds over-budget and about five years late.
Ministers claim they are confident that the latter vessel will be able to set sail by the end of 2023 and be put in service early next year. It was meant to be utilised on the Uig triangle in 2019, but was unfinished.
DELAYED – the Glen Sannox is waiting for completion at a shipyard in Port Glasgow.