The Sunday ferry service between Gourock and Kilcreggan looks set to be axed this year.
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport’s operations committee, meeting on Friday, is being recommended not to continue subsiding the summer-only service.
Doubt was cast over the future of the service for much of last year but in September Cove and Kilcreggan Community Council were told that it ‘should run next year’ by Cllr Robert MacIntyre, Argyll and Bute’s representative on SPT.
Community council chairman Nick Davies wrote to SPT asking for an earlier sailing, arguing that this would help to attract more customers.
But a report to Friday’s meeting says that because of reduced passenger numbers the subsidy cost is £21.60 per passenger, an increase from £15.45 in 2012.
“Increasing the operational hours of the service would lead to a corresponding increase in the cost of the contract and, with the subsidy cost per passenger already excessive, it is unlikely that a sufficient number of additional passengers would be gained to bring the already prohibitive cost within acceptable limits,” the report adds.
Cllr Maurice Corry suggested an additional 10am sailing for the Sunday service last July, after Harry Cathcart of the ferry users group said the timetable was too restrictive.
But the suggestions was not considered until the operations committee met four weeks afterwards, by which time it was said to be too late in the season for a trial.
The move has already been attacked by Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie: “Any blame for the decrease in passenger numbers can be laid squarely on SPT.
“If they had listened to residents’ calls for an earlier crossing and concerns over the lack of joined-up ticketing for Clydelink and Clyde Marine services then we would have never got to this stage.
“With tourists from around the world heading to the west of Scotland for this year’s Commonwealth Games, we need a Sunday service more than ever this summer.
“I have written to the Chair of SPT to urge him to work with passengers to come up with a plan to rescue the Sunday service this year.”
In 2013 the Sunday contract was awarded to Clyde Marine Motoring, which had run the seven day-service until Clydelink was given the contract in April 2012 after submitting a cheaper tender.
‘Ten-journey’ tickets were not transferable between the two companies.
Elected members will be asked to endorse the recommendation at the meeting in Glasgow on Friday morning, which will also hear that there has been a recent increase in the number of passengers from Monday to Saturday, compared to previous years.
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