Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Friday, 10 October 2008 11:00 UK

Clyde ferry service to be saved

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An under-threat ferry service looks set to continue sailing.

By Hayley Jarvis
BBC Scotland news website reporter

A 500-year-old ferry service on the River Clyde looks set to be maintained, after plans to replace it with a bridge were deemed too expensive.

The Renfrew to Yoker ferries typically carry four passengers per journey at a subsidy of 2.77 per head.

A study found that replacing the two boats with a bridge could cost 15m.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) board members will meet later to consider plans to replace the existing ferries with one smaller vessel.

The Renfrew Rose and the Yoker Swan have ferried passengers across the Clyde for 24 years.

Local people see the historic service as a vital link between the north and south of the city, but the boats have become increasingly costly to maintain.

It's quite a vital link for people north and south of the river
Joe McLaughlin
Ferry supervisor
Joe McLaughlin, supervisor on the ferries, said he was glad the service was likely to continue.

He said: "It's quite a vital link for people north and south of the river. It saves them a lot of time going from Clydebank across to Renfrew rather than having to go to Glasgow and through the tunnel etc.

"But it's a community link as well - there are a lot of parents on the one side, children on the other, so they all criss-cross. We've watched them over the years all growing up so that's been quite enjoyable seeing that.

"I'm glad they decided on getting on the other boat, but instead of just going north to south I would like to see them opening the river up, try to go from Clydebank to Braehead, or Clydebank to Glasgow, because it could then become educational as well. "

Smaller boat

About 150,000 passengers use the service each year. The ferries can carry up to 50 passengers, but typically take three-to-four people each journey.

A three-month 60,000 feasibility study funded by SPT members found replacing the service with a foot bridge could cost between 11m and 15m.

SPT will now examine proposals to buy a smaller vessel, with the capacity for 12 passengers, that would cost up to 1m with an annual subsidy of 400,000 per year.

BBC Scotland spoke to passengers on the Renfrew Rose who welcomed plans to keep the service in operation.

Neil Hamilton, from Netherlee, said: "It's handy for me, my work's in Glasgow and I live in the south side, so it's ideal. A lot of my friends live in Partick so after work it's easy to slide over for a bit of relaxation."

Contingency plans

Christopher McColl from Paisley said he used the ferry as an alternative to the car.

He said: "I use it because of fuel costs. I stay out in Paisley and I don't want to go over the Erskine bridge, I can just travel over on the ferry and head over here."

There are concerns about reducing the number of ferries in operation, but SPT has insisted that contingency measures will be put in place if the boat breaks down.

Councillor Alistair Watson, chair of SPT, said: "We already operate a ferry service elsewhere within the Clyde with one ferry service down at Kilcreggan and we haven't had any problems with that so far.

"We will have contingency plans in place. We will look at the options that we have available, whether or not we need one or two."

If the board approve the plan, SPT will begin to look for a new vessel which they say will have better disability access.


SEE ALSO
Go-ahead for Renfrew bridge study
28 Sep 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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