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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2008, 12:09 GMT
Ferry fares pilot 'on all routes'
The SNP made low-cost ferry fares a manifesto commitment
Low-cost ferry fares are to be piloted on all routes to and from the Western Isles, the BBC understands.

It had previously been expected that a trial of "road equivalent tariffs" (RET) would be run on a few routes.

The Scottish Government confirmed its proposals for RET would be outlined in an announcement next week and said it was committed to a pilot.

However, a spokesman said it was "pure speculation" to suggest that the trial would be rolled out on every service.

RET bases the cost of travelling on the equivalent distance by road.

The SNP made lowering the cost of trips to the isles, which have been seen as a barrier to economic growth, a key commitment in its election manifesto.

'Attracting tourists'

Last year, Finance Secretary John Swinney announced the study would look at how RET could be tested on a route, or routes, to the isles.

On Thursday, a spokesman said: "The Scottish Government is committed to introducing an RET pilot because we want to deliver a fairer deal for Scotland's ferry passengers.

"An RET pilot will not only bring cheaper fares for users, but it could also boost island economies by attracting tourists and supporting businesses.

"Phase one of the RET study, which looked at how such a pilot might work in practice, is nearing completion with a stakeholder meeting due to take place in Inverness next Wednesday."

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