Debate continues over the future of the Kilcreggan to Gourock ferry, with a meeting to discuss timetable changes being called for.
MSP Jackie Baillie has said the service – currently subsidised by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) – should be taken over by Transport Scotland.
But the move was frustrated after SPT chiefs met Argyll and Bute Council leaders behind closed doors in Lochgilphead, saying afterwards that the route could not be transferred as it did not meet the criteria for lifeline status – a condition set by Transport Scotland.
Jackie said this week:
“Passengers were offered a glimpse of hope last year when SPT told me that they would be happy to transfer the service to the Scottish Government.
“But all of a sudden SPT has now changed its mind after meeting with Argyll and Bute Council. The transfer can’t go ahead unless SPT and councillors agree so the ball is in their court.
“If they continue to block the move then SPT owes it to the hundreds of passengers who use the ferry every day to come up with a plan to respond to calls to improve service.”
Meanwhile the ferry service was again discussed at Cove and Kilcreggan Community Council’s meeting last week, after regular commuters Kerr Gardiner and Tony O’Neill raised concerns about lifeline status not being pursued.
Chairman Nick Davies agreed to write to SPT about three issues – cancellations, the Sunday service and the timetable.
Although acknowledging that the Island Princess has been running ‘pretty reliably’ for much of this year, he said extreme weather made it risky to berth such a small vessel on exposed jetties so suggested that Helensburgh pier or Rhu marina could be used when Kilcreggan was too difficult.
This would mean passengers were at least on the right side of the Clyde, rather than having to catch a train back to Glasgow from Gourock, then another train to Helensburgh and finally a bus – which could in total add three hours to their journey home.
He also called for the Sunday service to run in the summer of 2014, incorporating a first run mid-morning – this year the first run from Kilcreggan was 12.40 and the last return boat only four and a quarter hours afterwards.
Finally he asked SPT to consider hosting a meeting involving representatives of the ferry users group, operators Clydelink and SPT to consider refinements to the current timetable, which was changed three times in the space of four days in August 2012.