The question of how many days counts as ‘a few’ for SPT has finally been answered – it’s 116.
The Cailin Oir, Clydelink’s back-up boat for the Gourock to KiIcreggan ferry service which is subsidised by SPT, finally sailed yesterday (Sunday September 23) with MCA certification meaning it can carry more than 12 passengers.
At a heated meeting between MSPs, ferry users and SPT senior management on May 30, the authority’s chief executive Gordon MacLennan said the Cailin Oir would be in service ‘in a few days’.
And less than 24 hours later that message was repeated by Councillor David Wilson, an SPT board member, in a prominent picture story in the Greenock Telegraph.
But as the weeks and months of summer went by there was still no sign of the Cailin Oir appearing at Kilcreggan or Gourock piers.
Earlier this month MSP Jackie Baillie wrote to SPT and Clydelink demanding to know what had happened to the the back-up boat, saying: “I have called on SPT, time and time again to get a grip over this matter and they have failed to do so.”
The Cailin Oir had previously run on the Kilcreggan to Gourock route, but was not allowed to carry more than 12 passengers; this month’s meeting of Cove and Kilcreggan Community Council heard it had undergone trials was awaiting certification.
Today with MCA certification finally in place many months after she first appeared on the Clyde, she finally entered service on the route which requires a capacity of 60 passengers.
At the meeting in May Mr MacLennan said the Cailin Oir would run for two weeks, to ensure it was reliable and capable, before any work started to upgrade the Island Princess, the 16 year-old boat from the south coast of England which has been operating on the route since Clydelink took over the contract on April 1.
SPT’s minutes of the meeting show Mr Maclennan saying the Island Princess would only be removed from service once the Cailin Oir had settled in. Councillor David Wilson, who chaired that meeting, was aboard the ferry on Monday, its second day of service.
Update – at 1.30pm on Monday Clydelink announced that the service was suspended and there would be a review at 3pm