Transport Scotland officials have offered to hold talks with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) about taking on the Kilcreggan to Gourock ferry.
The move comes in response to a letter from Cardwell Bay and Greenock West Community Council, who wrote to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last month.
Among their suggestions – detailed here – was for the Kilcreggan and Dunoon routes to be amalgamated and tendered as one.
Currently the Kilcreggan service is subsidised by SPT, which awarded the contract to Clydelink last year after Clyde Marine had operated the service for more than 30 years. Last week though SPT awarded this summer’s contract for Sundays only to Clyde Marine.
Ms Sturgeon is conducting s review of the Dunoon route, which like Kilcreggan has been plagued by problems over the last 12 months, with passengers complaining that the boats brought into service are not able to cope with sea conditions in the Clyde.
Transport Scotland’s ferries contract manager Paul Linhart-MacAskill replied on behalf of Ms Sturgeon, saying that the draft final report on the Dunoon service was due to be available next month.
He referred to the Scottish Government’s Ferries Plan – which doesn’t include Kilcreggan – but points out that it states the government is willing to take on responsibility for lifeline ferry services, adding: “We would be willing to discuss this with SPT.”
Of the Dunoon route, which has been passenger-only since Argyll Ferries Ltd (AFL) took over the contract, he states:
“I can assure you that the performance and reliability of Argyll Ferries Limited (AFL) is taken very seriously by the Scottish Government.
“The Scottish Government is working in in partnership with AFL to improve the service. With input from AFL, Transport Scotland is currently looking to find a suitable replacement vessel for the service.
“The search for a replacement vessel continues and it has been disappointing that a viable and sustainable replacement for the MV Ali Cat has not yet been found.”