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29/11/2011 - HITRANS Welcome Announcement on the Extension of RET

The Minister for Housing and Transport, Keith Brown MSP today announced the good news that more islands are set to benefit from an extension of the Road Equivalent Tariff scheme for ferry fares.

The Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) report published today shows that the RET pilot introduced on routes to the Western Isles has boosted journeys by up to 31%, benefitting tourism and local business.

As part of their commitment to encouraging economic growth and employment, Ministers have announced the Scottish Government’s intention to;

  • continue RET as a permanent feature on the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree for passengers and cars, including small commercial vehicles and coaches:
  • replace RET for larger commercial vehicles on the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree, with an enhanced pre-RET discount scheme;
  • providing greater inter-island connectivity by rolling out RET to services between islands including routes across the Sounds of Barra and Harris
  • roll out a further RET pilot for passenger and cars including small commercial vehicles and coaches to Colonsay, Islay and Gigha from October 2012;
  • roll out a further RET pilot for passenger and cars including small commercial vehicles and coaches to Arran from October 2014;
  • roll out RET to other West Coast and Clyde islands within the term of this Parliament.

Mr Brown said:

“We made a commitment to continue with RET on the current routes and look to roll out RET to the Argyll and Clyde islands in light of the Western Isles pilot. And today we are announcing a package that not only makes good on that commitment but goes above and beyond it - a commitment which will see more remote and island communities benefit from the scheme.

More specifically, while we will see a further roll out of the scheme between our islands and the mainland - as a government we want to see more island to island routes included. That is why we have committed to roll out RET to routes across the Sounds of Barra and Harris providing greater inter-island connectivity, linking communities right across the Western Isles.

The Scottish Government also remains committed to assessing the affordability of ferry travel to and from our remote island communities and we are pleased with the results so far.

“The RET pilot has had a positive impact since it was introduced in October 2008, boosting the local tourist trade and local economies as a result,- and we want to see that continue, that is why we are continuing with RET on the current routes while extending it to include new routes.

”Tourism is just one benefit the RET pilot has brought our thriving island communities and we expect this continuation to bring futher positive results to the additional routes now being included.”

HITRANS Chair Cllr Duncan MacIntyre welcomed the statement from the Minister saying,

“The RET pilot scheme has been a real success. The pilot project has shown that the right fare levels will grow traffic to and from our islands and has brought real economic benefit to those communities. HITRANS welcomes the commitment to continue with RET fares on these routes and to extend RET fares to other parts of the Scottish ferries network.

HITRANS look forward to working with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland on the extension of RET to the other ferry routes in the Highlands and Islands. This process will begin with the extension of RET fares to Islay, Colonsay and Gigha in 2012 and we look forward to seeing the scheme expand to the other Scottish ferry routes in due course.”



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