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Last Updated: Monday, 13 August 2007, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
A ferry user's views on low fares
John MacIver. Picture courtesy of John MacIver
Mr MacIver regularly travels to the mainland for business
Islander John MacIver believes low-cost ferry fares will bring benefits to his business, family life and the Western Isles' economy.

In a week, the building surveyor from Ness, Lewis, spends 160 on ferry fares to get him to and from the mainland.

The ticket and accommodation costs mean he has to add extra charges to his fees.

He also has to add 500 to the cost of a holiday when he and his wife and their four children go abroad.

Mr MacIver travels by ferry every week for three months at a time in his work as a surveyor, but he also uses the service in his other work as a crofter.

In a week, I can put in 30 hours on the job and have at least another 20 hours travelling from home to Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh where I do most of my work
John MacIver
Isles ferry user

He has welcomed government plans to pilot cheaper fares for the islands but said that in the long-term it must look at improving the vessels used on the routes.

Mr MacIver said: "The cost of travel with my work makes it hard to compete with building surveyors on the mainland. I have to add 200-300 to my fees for travel and accommodation costs.

"In a week, I can put in 30 hours on the job and have at least another 20 hours travelling from home to Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh where I do most of my work."

Because he has to take his car, Mr MacIver purchases what is called a six-journey ticket, which costs 160.

Goods vehicles

He said he would welcome a 50% cut in the price of fares on services to the mainland, but also between the islands.

While he does not have a problem with timetables, Mr MacIver claimed the wrong type of vessels were being used on routes.

He said that, long-term, the government should consider two ferries - one to take passengers, cars and visitors quickly to the islands and another for heavy goods vehicles.

In the short-term, meanwhile, he said a "road equivalent tariff" (RET) would bring "amazing benefits" for the Western Isles.

Mr MacIver said: "The government should look at a 30-year life cycle of the economy. Reducing costs by 50% may cost several millions but it would be offset over 20-30 years."


SEE ALSO
Call made for cheaper ferry fares
11 Sep 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Isles air fares scheme takes off
18 May 06 |  Scotland

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