Free but slow – the Island Princess on April 1

Seating looks less comfortable than its predecessor, the Seabus.

Clydelink’s Island Princess made its first trip from Kilcreggan to Gourock and back today, with the politicians and members of the public aboard not being charged for their tickets.

But the boat, which was previously a pleasure cruiser in Lymington on the south coast of England, was already running ten minutes behind schedule when it arrived at Kilcreggan’s pier at 13.17, rather than 13.07 as timetabled.

Councillor David Wilson, a member of SPT’s operations committee which made the decision to award the contract to Clydelink rather than Clyde Marine, was on board but appeared to literally laugh off this issue saying he wasn’t aware of it and would not pass judgement on the basis of a single journey.

However since the weather was calm and there were few passengers aboard, this is bound to cause concern for commuters  – it bears out concerns raised last month.

The boat's skipper (centre) awaits the first passengers.
The Island Princess was previously based at Lymington
Seating look less comfortable than on its predecessor the Seabus.
There is no bathroom on board.
There are fears that the interior will not be big enough to accommodate all the passengers.
The view back to Kilcreggan
Passengers included MP Alan Reid (centre) and Councillor David Wilson (right). On the left is Mark Aikman of Clydelink.
SPT say the new ferry's gangplank will be better for passengers with prams and bicycles

9 Comments

  1. I saw the boat come in and rather than dispelling concerns I ended up with additional ones! Several areas of the plywood seating are damaged which are likely to snag clothing, the gangplank is not wide enough or smooth enough to push either bikes or buggies over (as was demonstrated by a bike and buggy on he first boat), the gangplank has no side netting which I would have thought dangerous for toddlers, there is not very much inside space. The timekeeping is a real concern as surely practice runs should have been undertaken prior to service – what if the first had been a weekday?

  2. I am glad that all the effort that has been put in over the past couple of months has ensured that my constituents still have a ferry service between Gourock and Kilcreggan. Having said that, the trip today was in ideal conditions but the Island Princes was still 10 minutes late in atrriving at Kilcreggan Pier. This will certainly be a concern for those who use this service on a regular basis and depent on it being punctual so that they can catch their connections at either side of the river.

    Although Councillor Duncan MacIntyre from Oban, who is the Council’s Transport Spokesperson and also represents the Council on SPT, asked all local councillors to turn out to welcome the Island Princes, he obviously did not think that it was impotant enough to bother attending himself. Apart from myself and another ward councillor, only one other councillors bothered to turn up.

    Very few people turned up to see the Island Princes arrive from Gourock with her first passengers. It was unfortunate that a piper was playing when she arrived as it appeared that she was being welcomed on to the route. As a number of people who were there said to me, it was totally inappropriate to have a piper welcoming a vessel that the community has fought against over the past couple of months.

    I have received some comments about the poor condition of the vessel and tha basic seating that looks far from comfortable. I also have great sympathy for those who will have to sit out on the open deck during the winter when crossing the Clyde. I belive that this level of service is totally unacceptable.

    Now that the service in in place, we can continue the fight with SPT and others over the tendering process and how this new contract was awarded. It is unfortunate that SPT, Argyll & Bute Council and a number of local councillors do not come out of this in a good light.

    George Freeman

  3. This is definately a ‘rush-job’. Seeing these pictures , the service has gone back in time to even before the venerable MV Kenilworth , The Seabus looks like a top-of-the-range Rolls Royce compared to this old banger! It’s a true saying , “You don’t miss things until they are gone” but maybe that’s what the politicians want , an inferior service for a short crossing and probaly a rise in fares to boot.

  4. The MP Alan Reid and Councillor Wilson of Inverclyde (and an SPT board member) are clearly enjoying the benign conditions in the company of Mark Aikman of Clydelink. A similar sail on deck in the dark and in inclement weather during the weather months would surely take the smiles off their faces. The gangway must be a health and safety risk and I doubt whether a proper risk assessment would approve its lack of side netting but based on all that has gone before who knows?!

  5. Sold down the river. Was there ever a more fitting phrase. I do wish the weather had been more in our favour today, a north westerly gale or perhaps a little snow. That might have wiped the cheesy smile form those faces of authority perched on rows of plywood boxes out for a Sunday jolly. The degree of incompetence, untruth and downright lying exhibited by SPT, Clydelink et al beggars belief. It must be time to blow this whole sorry affair open and set heads rolling.

    It is unfortunate that we the poor unconsidered passengers have to bear the consequences if this sorry affair. I can only hope that the inevitable failure of this service to withstand the sea conditions that we are all, bar SPT and Clydelink, familiar with, will force SPT review their utterly misjudged award of contract.

  6. They seriously expect this to do the job? Uncomfortable seating? Not disability or child safe? The wood panelling not even intact? Replacing a vessel built for purpose as well. I’ll tell you what, you wouldn’t get me on that, even in fine weather, never mind the depths of winter on a choppy ice cold Clyde, thank you very much! Bouncing my spine and backside on those seats as the boat crashes over the top of another wave? You have to be joking. The Kilcreggan to Gourock route is not for a ‘pleasure boat’. Worse still if it can’t do the route on time – there are connecting buses and trains to be caught – peoples livelihoods depend on getting to their work!

    • I totally agree Marina, and as a sciatica sufferer I really don’t think I could cope with that and I consider myself able bodied!! Toddlers are difficult enough to keep safe without having to negotiate that flimsy gangplank with only a couple of bits of string between the passengers and catastrophe. I have serious doubts about the boats seaworthiness but am in no doubt that this ‘pleasure boat’ would not be a pleasure to use.

  7. scary taking kids on that. super slidy looking seats with nothing to hold onto in the rough weather. How can that be safe?

  8. I made a comment in an e-mail recently that SPT were replacing a SEABUS with a SEABANGER – and after seeing the Island Princess at Gourock Pier today – how so apt that comment is!
    What I saw today was definitely a vessel showing its age, barely capable of pulling away from the Pier and despite the few passengers on board still did not keep to its timetable. I will sail on it for the first time tomorrow (2nd April).
    I am astonished that in spite of the overwhelming amount of concern presented to SPT they still continue to stick their heads in the sand and continue on regardless. What they fail to understand is that today was only day one of Clydelinks five year contract and that their (SPT) problems are just beginning. They still have to answer the serious concerns raised about the whole tendering process.
    In addition, no amount of crew, certificates etc can hide the fact that due to her size, the Island Princess will sail considerably less during adverse weather conditions than the SEABUS.
    The unfortunate thing is that this will have to become a reality rather than an opinion before SPT will take notice.
    I can only hope that those in the organisations who have deemed the Island Princess fit to sail, who will deem her crew fit to manage her and those who will take the decision to remove the Piermasters from Kilcreggan Pier are absolutely sure of what they have done and what they intend to do.

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