02/03/2016 - Barra hosts meeting of Regional Transport Partnership Chairs
Castlebay in Barra hosted the latest meeting of the Chairmen of the seven Regional Transport Partnerships in Scotland.
HITRANS, which is the strategic regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, hosted the event on 2 March. For the past two years, HITRANS has provided the secretariat for the Group, which meets quarterly at different venues in Scotland to enable cross-RTP discussion and liaison on matters of joint interest and to provide opportunities to improve transport planning and delivery through sharing of best practice and information.
The seven Regional Transport Partnerships are – HITRANS (Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership), Nestrans (North East Scotland Transport Partnership), SESTRAN (South East Scotland Transport Partnership), SWestrans (South West Scotland Transport Partnership, ZetTrans (Shetland Transport Partnership), SPT (Strathclyde Partnership for Transport)and TACTRAN (Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership).
Chairman of HITRANS is Councillor James Stockan, Orkney. Vice-Chairman is Councillor John Mackay, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
Of particular interest to the Western Isles, was a report by HITRANS Director Ranald Robertson, updating Chairs on an Air Services Scoping Paper – the first phase of a project to improve air services between the islands and mainland.
The Scoping Paper is being developed on behalf of HITRANS, ZetTrans, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council, Argyll and Bute Council and Shetland Islands Council. The study is being funded by HITRANS and ZetTrans.
Mr Robertson said the first phase of the review of air service provision between the islands and the mainland would be to establish evidence and data around a number of the key issues which had been identified including the affordability and reliability of services.
It had also been agreed that a forum be set up to consider all strategic transport issues affecting Scotland’s islands. The Islands Transport Forum, established by Islands Minister Derek Mackay, would meet biannually and would include representatives from local authorities with island communities. The first meeting of the Forum had been held in January of this year.
Mr Robertson said it was intended that the forum would deal with internal and external ferry, air, and other transport services upon which each of the island communities so heavily depended for social cohesion and sustainable economic activity and growth.
The Islands Transport Forum would consider opportunities and difficulties, including:
- Improving collaboration between Transport Scotland, Regional Transport Partnerships and the Islands Councils.
- Establishing a process that fully accounts for island-specific views.
- Ensuring efficient and effective lines of communication between all key stakeholders.
The Scoping Paper would aim to set out relevant information and evidence in a number of areas including;
- Consider all air services between Islands and the Scottish mainland.
- Current and potential aircraft deployed on island to mainland routes
- Evidence on the reliability of the different air services
- Affordability for passengers
- Affordability for Scottish Government / Local Authorities
- Roles and responsibilities
Mr Robertson said it had also been agreed to undertake an online survey to help gather views on the existing services and information on what issues were most important to passengers. SCDI were subsequently commissioned to support the development, distribution and analysis of the survey which has received over 1,400 responses. The results were currently being reviewed.
He said: “The intention is to complete the draft Scoping paper at the earliest opportunity with a view to then engaging with Transport Scotland on the issues and opportunities it identifies. A copy of the draft Air Services Scoping Paper will be presented to a future HITRANS Partnership Meeting with the item then being discussed at the next Islands Transport Forum.”