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More Scottish islands are set to benefit from reduced ferry charges after trials encouraged a third more journeys on Caledonian MacBrayne’s western isles routes. The Scottish Government used the pilot to work out how the current ferry fares system can be improved to bring cheaper travel for islanders, tourists and businesses across the country.

A report published late last year showed clear indications that the ‘Road Equivalent Tariff’ (RET) pilot scheme has boosted journeys by up to 31 per cent, benefiting tourism and local business. The Scottish Government has now confirmed it will continue RET as a permanent feature on the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree for passengers and cars, including small commercial vehicles and motorhomes.

Ministers also promised to provide greater inter-island connectivity by extending RET to services between more islands, including Barra and Harris, and roll out a further RET pilot for cars, small commercial vehicles to Colonsay, Islay and Gigha from October 2012 and in 2014.

Road Equivalent Tariff Minister for Housing and Transport, Keith Brown, said: “We made a commitment to continue with RET on the current routes and look to roll out RET to the Argyll and Clyde islands in light of the Western Isles pilot.

“While we will see a further roll-out of the scheme between our islands and the mainland – as a government we want to see more island-to-island routes included, linking communities right across the Western Isles.

“The RET pilot has had a positive impact since it was introduced in October 2008, boosting the local tourist trade and local economies as a result and we want to see that continue, that is why we are continuing with RET on the current routes while extending it to include new routes. Tourism is just one benefit the RET pilot has brought our thriving island communities and we expect this continuation to bring further positive results to the additional routes now being included.”

Source: Out and About Live

Christopher Macgowan
twitter: motorhomenews