Local MSP Jackie Baillie and MP Alan Reid have demanded answers from SPT on hearing that Kilcreggan’s ferry service has been suspended.
‘Technical reasons’ were cited by operators Clydelink, but the firm’s promise that service would be resumed after 3pm was not reflected in reality; at 16.46 though Clydelink tweeted that service was resumed and the boat would run from Kilcreggan at 17.04.
SPT’s assistant chief executive Eric Stewart later responded to Jackie Baillie’s email, but his statement leaves serious questions unanswered.
With little information available from SPT or Clydelink, Mr Reid had demanded to know why there isn’t a back-up vessel available, as SPT had stated would be in an email dated March 23.
“Where was the back up service today?” asked Mr Reid: “What fines will be imposed on Clydelink for the failure in service today?
“This is an totally unacceptable situation.”
Jackie Baillie also wrote to SPT chief executive Gordon MacLennan, saying “I am becoming increasingly concerned about the email trail from constituents reporting actual safety concerns about the ferry service since it commenced at the start of this month.
“It is a further worry that the service is currently not available, information to constituents about replacement services is at best patchy and appear to be by bus, rather than a replacement vessel.
“Can you please provide a full explanation of all the concerns raised with you since the start of the service and details of the current service failure and when full service will be resumed.
“I regret that I will be raising the matter with the Minister for Transport if I do not receive a satisfactory response.”
Update: At 5.31pm Eric Stewart of SPT confirmed that the service had been resumed.
He confirmed that the MCA had been involved, but said the problems were relatively minor and had now been addressed. His statement does not address the issue of why a backup boat had not been available, as SPT had said would be the case, and begs the question of why the MCA did not insist on this work being done before the boat as allowed to sail on April 1.
Eric Stewart’s statement reads: “At this early stage we understand that there was no fundamental technical issue with the vessel but rather that there were a number of compliance issues such as signage which were immediately addressed to the satisfaction of the MCA who would clearly not permit the vessel to operate unless entirely safe to do so.
“As you would expect we will be investigating the matter fully and discussing this in some detail with the operator.
“It is appropriate that we complete this exercise to enable us to give a more detailed response as to how these and other such issues will be dealt with to ensure the future ongoing reliability of this service.
“When the disruption occurred this morning the operator – of his own initiative and at his own cost, and even before contacting us – had instituted a bus replacement service which was immediately announced on our customer information web site. We do recognise this is not as convenient as the ferry crossing.
“It is disappointing that we had this interruption to the service today. It is recognised that with any change of operator or vessel there is a settling in period where disruptions can unfortunately occur as was the case indeed at the commencement of the previous contract. Notwithstanding that our focus is to continue to work with the operator to ensure ongoing service reliability and address any outstanding concerns.”