Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity in the Scottish Government, has confirmed that there will be delays to the introduction of a RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) type scheme on the ferry route between Orkney and Mainland Scotland.
Michael Matheson stated that this was for legal reasons. Unlike the ferries to Shetland the ones to Orkney include 2 private operators. It was a failure to agree terms and conditions with one of the operators that has led to questioning the legality of the Government subsidy.
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, Lib/Dem said:
“Why this has been allowed to happen is still not clear, though it appears the government failed to do the legwork to get operators on board or seek early advice from the relevant competition authorities.
“Either way, with the Government and operators deadlocked, it is people in Orkney and those seeking to access these lifeline services that are left counting the cost as they continue to pay over the odds.”
Local MSP Maree Todd, SNP, in support of Michael Matheson’s position said:
“I welcome the comments from the Cabinet Secretary clarifying for my constituents what is causing this delay and where we are up to in this process.
“Of course we all want to see this happen as soon as possible but it would be inappropriate for any MSP to break rules on this matter or to breach any process that needs to be followed in order to achieve it.
“The Scottish Government, the SNP and I remain fully committed to delivering RET to my constituents in Orkney and Shetland and we are working to achieve this as soon as possible.”
Shetland has had most of the RET style subsidised fares delivered because it does not have private operators between the islands and mainland Scotland. This also means that those travelling the Orkney to Shetland route have reduced fares.
Archived story:Delay to Cut in Orkney Ferry Fares Continues
Reporter: Fiona Grahame