NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Reduced Northern Isles ferry fare scheme to be rolled out

The ferry Hamnavoe which runs between Scrabster and Stromness Image copyright Dave Gray

A scheme to reduce ferry fares to and from the Northern Isles is to be rolled out next year.

Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf, said Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) would be introduced on Pentland Firth routes, with a variant for Aberdeen to Kirkwall and Lerwick.

RET allows fares to be realigned with the equivalent cost of travel by road.

It is expected to see foot passenger fares cut by an average of more than 40%, with car fares down more than 30%.

Mr Yousaf said: "During my first visit to the Northern Isles as Transport Minister I committed to ensuring we would reduce ferry fares as soon as practically possible.

"These significant fare cuts will be rolled out in the first half of 2018.

"It is also our intention to include the commercial operators on the Pentland Firth in this scheme, and we will work with them to put a suitable system in place to allow that to happen.

"This reduction in fares will make ferry travel to and from the Northern Isles even more attractive for islanders and tourists.

"It also brings fares into line with those on the Clyde and Hebrides network, ensuring parity and supporting our aim of having one overarching fares policy across our ferry services."

'Long time coming'

Northern Isles MSPs Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott both welcomed the news, and praised campaigners.

Orkney Lib Dem MSP Mr McArthur said: "I am grateful to all those in Orkney and Shetland who supported the campaign for fair ferry fares.

"It has been a long time coming but shows the importance of standing up for what's right and not taking no for an answer."

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