RET ferry fares

Ferry - Isle of Arran

Cheaper ferry fares on the Clyde and Hebrides network have helped to support island businesses and extend the tourist season.

A new independent evaluation of the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) scheme, which focused on the islands which received cheaper fares in 2015, shows a number of positive findings:

  • Around 25% of island residents made more ferry trips as a result of the introduction of RET.
  • Around 40% of businesses reported an increase in turnover since the introduction of RET.
  • RET helped to grow the ‘visiting friends & relatives’ market, whilst also making it easier for island residents to access mainland goods and services.
  • Across the wider Clyde and Hebrides network, there is clear evidence of an extension of the tourism season for most islands.

Overall, the roll out of RET has led to an estimated average fare reduction of 34% for passengers and 40% for car traffic on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry network and it continues to save travellers around £25m a year.

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands Paul Wheelhouse said:

“This is another very encouraging report into the positive impact of Road Equivalent Tariff fares on the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network.

“I’m very pleased to see the scheme helping on a number of levels by supporting island economies and the local tourism industry, as well as making it easier for islanders to access the mainland.

“The evaluation found that overall, by 2018, RET had increased passenger and car carryings by 11.6% and 20.6%, respectively, across the CHFS network and it also highlighted a number of routes that face capacity challenges during peak periods in the summer. This will help us work with stakeholders to manage the demand for these services and investment in the fleet, harbours and passenger facilities to address pressures.

“Whilst these figures come from the period before the COVID-19 pandemic, they underline the potential importance of the RET scheme in helping get our islands back up and running once we are through these challenging times.

“The roll out of RET fares was a key commitment from the Scottish Government, so I’m delighted to see the evaluation has reported that it is delivering real benefits for our island communities.”

Published 15 Mar 2021