The Sunday ferry service which has served Kilcreggan for decades will be cut this summer, it was confirmed today.
Falling passenger numbers mean the subsidy last year cost more than £20 per person, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport’s operations committee was told.
Suggested timetable changes for the link with Gourock were ruled out, and the members voted unanimously to withdraw the subsidised service.
Argyll and Bute Council’s representative Robert MacIntyre, who last year had seemed confident that the service would be kept, told the meeting: “I am disappointed with losing the service – and the people who are not using it.”
He added: “I appreciate the subsidy is high and there is no way you can guarantee that the number of passengers is going to go up,” but asked if ferries could be run on Sundays just for the Commonwealth Games period.
Officials said this couldn’t be subsidised since it was classed as tourism rather than social necessity, but SPT chief executive Gordon Maclennan undertook to contact both Clydelink and Clyde Marine to see if they would run a purely commercial, unsubsidised service on Sundays during the Games.
Cove and Kilcreggan Community Council had suggested an earlier sailing at 10am, as the timetable had allowed very little time for people on days out.
But bus services manager Alex Scott said: “The difficulty is that if you extend the operation of the service it is with a consequent increase in the cost of providing it.
“It would have to generate a very, very substantial increase in passengers to offset this.”
Inverclyde‘s representative David Wilson said he didn’t think the timetable change would make ‘a significant difference’, adding that passenger numbers had fallen from 1,061 in 2012 to 742 last year.
“I have fought for two years to retain this, but I do not believe that there is now support from other councillors,” he added.
“I am desperately disappointed that during 2013 the passenger figures dropped – the people are speaking.”
The meeting heard that the same timetable had been used on Sundays in 2012 and 2013; in previous years the first sailing had been an hour earlier, but the last boat had also been slightly earlier so the ‘overall spread’ of sailings cross the day had only decreased by half an hour.
The Clydelink service which runs from Mondays to Saturdays will be unaffected by the cut to the summer-only Sunday service.
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