Between 2014 and 2018 there has been an increase of 27% for foot passengers and 35% for cars on the Stornoway to Ullapool route alone.
Similar increases can be seen on routes throughout Scotland and this has to be welcomed and encouraged for rural economies to grow and thrive.
Unfortunately our seagoing transport network is groaning under the strain, and solutions urgently need to be found to ensure that these lifeline services are fit for purpose.
The community of the Western Isles in particular has been saying for a number of years now that additional vessels and routes are required over the summer, and they were held off with the promises of extra sailings. As yet these have yet to make an appearance and the ramifications are being felt by local people and local businesses.
The Scottish Government’s mismanagement of the Uig and Arran Ferries build is astonishing and it is unclear whether these ferries will ever come into service. They need to stop initiating vanity projects and provide reliable boats that can serve the needs of our communities.
It is time that the Scottish Government stopped kicking this issue into the long grass and provide ferry services that meet demand, both immediate and long term.
Rhoda Grant,is the local MSP for Labour. All list MSPs for the Highlands and Islands are welcome to share their views in The Orkney News