Ten years of decline on the Kilcreggan to Gourock ferry service have been arrested, a Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) has said.
Cllr David Wilson made the claim during an interview on Inverclyde Radio recently, saying that switching to Clydelink rather than Cldye Marine had saved the public £200,000 a year.
“Given that we have saved that money, the ferry is operating with the same sort of numbers of people,” he said.
“In fact numbers frankly have increased this year compared to three or four years ago so we are quite pleased about that.”
SPT’s own figures would seem to contradict that claim though; in 2009/10 there were 71,600 journeys and the current moving annual total for 2013/14 is 54,023.
This year’s figures for May and June did show steep increases compared to 2012, a is shown by the table at the end of this story, but during that period the service was beset by a series of cancellations caused by breakdowns and safety crackdowns, described in the interview by Cllr Wilson as ‘teething problems’.
Asked why the figures had improved, he said: “I think it’s increased because of increased reliability. I think that people are conscious that it’s there, people are conscious that it’s almost a ‘use it or lose it’ situation.”
He described the ferry as ‘an essential social service’ which he expcted SPT would continue to support, but said he shared SNP MSP Stuart MacMIllan’s doubts about it being given lifeline status.
“It has been the opinion of the Scottish Government that it is not lifeline up to now, and it is really up to Argyll and Bute Council the community council at Cove and Kilcreggan and the councillors and MSPs on that side of the water to argue for it to be lifeline, so really basically I agree with what Stuart Macmillan has said,” he added.
Surprisingly, he said that the pontoons which were talked about last year by SPT as a solution to problem with ferries at Kilcreggan, Dunoon and Gourock, would be ones which had been used previously by the Renfrew ferry.
“There were thoughts at one time that we would bring the pontoons, and in discussions with Calmac have pontoons placed, particularly at Dunoon to allow better access,” he said.
This seems to mean that there have been two alternative options for pontoons to be used – the multi-million pound project for new work, which has never been discussed publicly despite a feasibility study being completed in June 2012 by consultants Arch Henderson, and this proposal for pontoons which had already been used much further up the river to be redeployed.
The full interview, during which Cllr Wilson also responds to questions from Cardwell Bay and Greenock West Community Council, is available here.