Audit Scotland report on ferries
Responding to the Audit Scotland report on Scotland’s ferry networks, Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf said:
“We welcome this Audit Scotland report as it confirms that ferry services are performing well and it underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to our ferry networks and the vital services they perform for our remote and island communities.
“Since 2007, we have invested over £1 billion in our ferry services. We are proud of that investment, which has brought the introduction of new routes, the procurement of new vessels and the roll out of cheaper fares for ferry users. All of our investment is subject to strict financial control and management, and we will continue to support our ferry networks and the communities that depend on them.
“As the report points out, the operators providing our ferry services are performing well. In 2016, 5.7 million people and 1.4 million cars were carried on 158,000 sailings. 99.7% of those services operated and 99.6% were on time, so there is no doubt that the staff and crew of the Clyde and Hebrides, Northern Isles and Gourock-Dunoon routes deserve a great deal of credit for their hard work. It is also very pleasing to see that ferry users are generally happy with their services.
“This Scottish Government was the first to undertake a comprehensive review of our ferry services, culminating in the publication of the Scottish Ferries Plan, which set out the way forward from 2013 until 2022. That document recognises the need to continually review our approach to providing these services and reassess the needs of ferry users. We intend to bring our existing work into a single document with a consistent and over-arching strategy for all the ferry services supported by Scottish Government, to be rolled forward annually.
“In the longer term, the next Ferries Plan will be a single long-term strategy document that is produced in the context of the National Transport Strategy and the Strategic Transport Projects Review. These are two of Transport Scotland’s most important pieces of work, and will allow us to ensure effective co-ordination between ferries and other modes of transport. Details of the next Ferries Plan are currently being worked through, but it will be ready in advance of the conclusion of the current Plan in 2022.
“The Scottish Government maintains that the procurement of the Clyde and Hebrides contract was a success, leading to a winning bid from CalMac that contains 350 commitments to improve services. The process included the establishment of the first Independent Procurement Reference Panel to ensure it was fair, open and transparent. The procurement exercise has also picked up prestigious awards at Scottish and UK levels. As always, we will ensure lessons learned from this procurement will be taken into account in the future.
“Our ferry services are iconic transport links that make a significant contribution to the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of our islands and Scotland as a whole. Making sure they continue to support the communities they serve, as well as delivering best value for taxpayer’s money, will always remain at the heart of our ferry operations.”