Ferry fare cuts confirmed for RET roll out

Details of significant fare cuts in the next stage of the roll out of Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) network have been announced by Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay.

Following the phased roll out of RET to parts of the CHFS network in recent years, all remaining routes will begin to benefit from fare reductions from October 2015.

The price of a single passenger fare on these routes will fall by an average of 44%, whilst car fares will be cut by an average of 55%.

As well as bringing the price of fares down, where an RET fare would be more expensive than the standard multi-journey single equivalent, fares will be capped at the lower level.

Speaking during a visit to Mull, one of the islands that will benefit from this stage of the RET roll out, Mr Mackay said:

“As Minister for Transport and Islands I’m well aware of the crucial role our lifeline ferry services play for the communities they serve, so I’m delighted to confirm that the RET roll out will bring significant fare reductions for passengers.

“The roll out of RET on other routes has been a real success, bringing benefits to local economies and boosting the tourist trade, so I’m sure this will come as welcome news to locals and visitors.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our island communities and understands their concerns about the affordability of ferry fares. In cases where RET fares would be more expensive than multi-journey discount tickets, the fares will be capped at the lower level. This will ensure these lifeline ferry services remain affordable for the remote communities that depend on them.

“Lower fares will inevitably lead to an increase in traffic on these services, but CalMac will have the opportunity to bring forward plans to manage this demand. The operator will engage with communities in due course, and any demand management measures will be agreed with these communities before they are introduced.

“The roll out of RET fares to the CHFS network in the lifetime of this parliament fulfils a key commitment of the 2012 Ferries Plan. It means the entire Clyde and Hebrides network will benefit from cheaper ferry travel. We will continue to invest in our ferry services, with up to £15.2m planned to support the application of RET in 2016/17 and continued funding for the duration of the next CHFS contract.”

Notes to editors

1. The Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) scheme involves setting ferry fares on the basis of the cost of travelling an equivalent distance by road.

2. RET was introduced for passengers, cars, small commercial vehicles and coaches on the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree in October 2008. It was rolled out to Islay, Colonsay and Gigha in October 2012 and to Arran in October 2014.

3. The new RET fares which will be applied in the Winter 2015/16 timetable are provided in the table below:



RET passenger fare

RET car fare


Wemyss Bay / Rothesay



Colintraive / Rhubodach




Oban / Craignure



Lochaline / Fishnish



Fionnphort / Iona



Tobermory / Kilchoan



Small Isles

Mallaig / Eigg



Mallaig / Muck



Mallaig / Rum



Mallaig / Canna



Sound of Barra

Castlebay / Lochboisdale



Barra / Eriskay



Sound of Harris

Berneray / Leverburgh



Tarbert Harris / Lochmaddy




Mallaig / Armadale




Sconser / Raasay




Largs / Cumbrae




Oban / Lismore




Tarbert / Portavadie



4. Transport Scotland is currently undertaking a review of commercial vehicle and freight fares, with the aim to deliver a new overarching freight fares structure in future Scottish Government ferry contracts.

Published 26 Mar 2015 Tags