Reliability the key for ferry, survey shows

  • Later sailing from Gourock ‘would increase numbers’

  • Only 10% say SPT should keep control of ferry

  • Boats are criticised, but crew praised

Reliability is the biggest issue for travellers using the Kilcreggan to Gourock ferry, a survey has revealed.

Details of the survey are being made public today (Wednesday), as the service continues to suffer cancellations while work is under way on the Island Princess.

The back-up boat Cailin Oir came into service on February 8 and since then there have only been five days when sailings have not been disrupted.

There has been a steep increase in cancelled sailings while the Cailin Oir has been serving Kilcreggan this month.
There has been a steep increase in cancelled sailings while the Cailin Oir has been serving Kilcreggan this month.

Today (Wednesday ) the ferry’s Twitter feed announced that the service was ‘currently suspended due to high winds’ at 7.09 – while passengers were on board sailing from Kilcreggan to Gourock, prompting bemused exchanges on the social media website.

Disruptions to the ferry service have a significant effect on travellers, according to the survey.

More than 60% of people said they would use other transport if the boat was not running, but this would be more costly and/or take longer, while 28% said they would not travel at all as the alternatives are not realistic.

Reliability was the main reason why people would not use the service, with 40%  of respondents citing this, followed by timetable (18%) and comfort (5%) – there were many comments saying that the boats currently used were not adequate for the route.

And improved reliability was also the factor which scored highest (29%) when people were asked what would make them more likely to use the service, although 20% of people said timetable changes would help.

Better connections with other transport such as buses or trains were requested by 18% of people, while 16% felt that the route could be changed and 13% said there should be greater comfort on board.

By far the most common suggestion was for a later evening sailing to Kilcreggan – currently the last run leaves at 18.12, although the crew can wait longer if the 17.23 train from Glasgow is delayed.

There were also calls for the service to be more ‘joined up’, especially in terms of connections with the 316 bus which links Kilcreggan with Cove, Rosneath, Clynder and Garelochhead.

Two-thirds of people said that Transport Scotland, which currently runs the Dunoon  ferries, should be responsible for the route, with only 10% saying it should continue to be funded by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT).

A transfer to Transport Scotland has been opposed by SPT and Argyll and Bute Council, who say the service is socially necessary rather than lifeline, but several respondents said it was vital for their access to health care and education.

And 75% said the service had got worse since April 1, when the contract was awarded to Clydelink by SPT, with only two people feeling it was a better service overall – there were many comments praising the helpfulness of the Clydelink crew, however.

SPT confirmed last month that it was cutting the subsidy for the summer-only Sunday service, but 59% of people surveyed said Sunday sailings should continue, with 10% saying they should be cut.

The survey was completed by 132 people and all the results, including comments and suggestions, are being made public – to download the PDF files just click on the links at the bottom of this story – but a small number have had to be redacted for legal reasons.

Survey summary    Question 1 detail    Question 2 detail    Question 3 detail    Question 4 detail    Question 5 detail    Question 6 detail    Question 7 detail    Question 8 detail    Question 9 detail

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  1. Six things you need to know about the Kilcreggan and Dunoon ferries – The Lochside Press

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