More changes are ahead for the Kilcreggan ferry, amid continuing complaints about cancelled sailings.
The timetable will be changed from late April because of upgrading work at the ‘Kilcreggan Steps’ at Gourock, it was revealed yesterday (Tuesday).
The work will last for six weeks, with most sailings unaffected and three options for a temporary timetable – see links at the end of this story – put forward by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Cove and Kilcreggan Community Council was told.
But the number of cancelled sailings in recent weeks was attacked as ‘a disaster’ and ‘shocking’ – and SPT was accused of being ‘immoral’ in its attitude to travellers who were left stranded.
The work at Gourock pier was announced by Cllr Robert MacIntyre, Argyll and Bute’s representative on SPT, who said that pier was owned by CMAL and the Kilcreggan boat would have to work around the existing contract with Argyll Ferries who run ferries to Dunoon.
The first ferry from Gourock will leave 15 minutes earlier than usual and one midday sailing will have to be during this period – the community council and ferry users group are being asked for their views.
Sailings were disrupted on 50% of days in February and 28% of days in January, and community councillor Derek Fowlis said it had been ‘a disaster’ in recent months, and the back-up boat Cailin Oir was ‘not a fit boat’.
“The times it has been off are absolutely shocking – it was going off with 19 knots of wind,” he said: “People now don’t want to use it.”
He said the problem was particularly bad for college students, and one teenage girl had been left stranded in Gourock when the ferry was cancelled, without any cash to get home.
“If the boat is off, SPT should do the decent thing and have a bus back to Kilcreggan or allow them to use the ferry ticket to get back via the trains and buses,” he said.
“I don’t know how that girl got home.”
Cllr MacIntyre said SPT could not force the train and bus companies to take ferry passengers when the boat was not running.
“SPT cannot be responsible for people not having money in their pocket and they cannot be responsible for people not getting home,” he said.
But community council secretary Murdo MacDonald responded: “It is a moral responsibility, not a legal responsibility.
“The kids have a ticket and the idea that no-one is responsible is immoral.”
Cllr MacIntyre said that he would ask SPT chief executive Gordon Maclennan to continue pursuing the possibility of rail and bus operators accepting ferry tickets when the last sailing was cancelled, but SPT had no power over them.
The three options for the new timetable are below – the usual timetable is here.