[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 11 September 2006, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Call made for cheaper ferry fares
Stornoway ferry
Hitrans says ferry fares should be subject to a discount scheme
Reducing ferry fares to the Western Isles by 30% would boost island economies, according to research commissioned by a transport body.

The study for Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership in Scotland (Hitrans) estimated that 700 jobs and 22m a year could be generated.

Lower fares would mean more traffic on routes offsetting the need for increased subsidies, said the report.

The Scottish Executive said it was preparing a review of fares.

The idea to make it cheaper to travel to the islands by sea follows the launch in May of discount air fares for people living in parts of the Highlands and Islands.

It's been clear in all research that where fares are reduced to the point where jobs can be created, where the economy can develop, that there will be greater economic output
Donald Manford, Hitrans

Residents in the area are entitled to a 40% discount on trips to Scotland's main airports.

Donald Manford, the Western Isles representative on Hitrans, welcomed the results of the new research.

He said: "It's been clear in all research that where fares are reduced to the point where jobs can be created, where the economy can develop, that there will be greater economic output.

Cheap fares

"It's going to be harder for government to deny that the proper way to develop the economy is to provide a level playing field."

The discount air fare scheme was launched in May at an estimated cost of 11m a year. Discounts are available to passengers who live in the Northern and Western Isles and those in Islay, Jura and Caithness.

The deal applies to people taking flights to Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen and there is no restriction on the number of trips.

Students who live away from home are also eligible for the cheap fares.

More than 30,000 concessionary cards were sent out to people in the region.

The Scottish Executive said it was preparing for a major review of the fare structure set down by ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac).

"Changes emerging from this review will be phased in over the lifetime of the first tendered contract, with the process completed in setting the specification for the second contract," said a spokesman.

Jim Mather, Scottish National Party MSP for the Highlands and Islands, congratulated Hitrans for the initiative in commissioning the research.

He agreed that "proactive" ferry fares would help island economies.


SEE ALSO
New Highland air links launched
04 Sep 06 |  Highlands and Islands
New route's air fares announced
18 Aug 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Isles flights to London take off
22 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Isles air fares scheme takes off
18 May 06 |  Scotland

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific