Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Friday, 22 January 2010

Clyde ferry route to end in March

By Jamie McIvor
BBC Scotland local government correspondent

Renfrew - Yoker ferry
The current ferries have been in service for 26 years

The Renfrew to Yoker ferry across the River Clyde, west of Glasgow, will end in March as part of cash savings.

Councillors on Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) voted to withdraw the service as part of wider moves to save £2.5m from next year's budget.

SPT said it was making an annual loss of £430,000 to keep the ferry running and the service was "unsustainable".

Renfrewshire Council criticised the decision and said it would "explore every avenue" to keep the ferry going.

SPT chair, Alistair Watson, said it had decided to ditch the ferry service with "great regret".

"The decision to close the Renfrew ferry was not an easy one and we recognise that it has served communities across the Clyde very well for a long time," he said.

"The sad reality is that we are living in an exceptional financial climate. Like all local councils we have had to make extremely difficult choices on where to cut public spending."

SPT provided very few details on the economic case for closure and ignored Renfrewshire's proposal to have an urgent review on how the Renfrew Ferry service can be maintained
Councillor Marie McGurk
SPT member for Renfrewshire Council

The decision - by 14 votes to five - means that the two passenger-only ferries operating on the route, will finish their service at the end of March.

One of the SPT members who voted against the decision was Renfrewshire Councillor Marie McGurk.

She accused SPT of rushing through the decision "with little or no justification, let alone consultation".

Ms McGurk said: "This essential transport link is unquestionably part of Renfrewshire's heritage. However, our main argument is that it can still provide a vital role in the region for the future.

"SPT provided very few details on the economic case for closure and ignored Renfrewshire's proposal to have an urgent review on how the Renfrew Ferry service can be maintained.

"We believe there are a range of funding and transport options which can be quickly worked up and considered."

Both vessels used on the route could accommodate up to 50 people but rarely carried more than a dozen people at a time, with many journeys typically having only two or three people aboard.

The crossing between Renfrew and Yoker, near Clydebank, is a mere 200m, which makes it one of the shortest ferry routes in the world.

However, the alternative routes - across the Erskine Bridge or through the Clyde Tunnel - are several miles long and tricky journeys to make by public transport.



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