Scottish Ferry Services: Ferries Plan (2013-2022)

Chapter 3: What kind of ferry services should be funded?


Routes and Services Needs Based Assessment

1. One of the key elements for the Ferries Review has been the development of a robust overarching framework or methodology for the determination of routes and services for those communities served by a ferry service. We developed this approach because we felt that it was absolutely essential that any changes to routes and services are based on objective evidence. Second, it is important that each community is treated on an equal footing by the Review. By choosing to develop and adopt an evidence-based methodology, we have insured against the prospect of favouring one community over another. Finally, we want a methodology that can be replicated to inform future changes to routes and services.

2. There are three steps that describe what the routes and service methodology does: 1) for each community we have defined what they need their ferry service for and the priorities of those needs; 2) we have defined a model ferry service to meet those needs; and 3) we have compared and contrasted the model service with their current service.

3. The routes and services methodology has been applied to all the main island communities for which we had sufficiently robust data. There are some communities for which comparable data either do not exist altogether or are not sufficiently robust to allow us to apply the methodology in full. With these communities we have relied on other sources of information, including discussions with communities, to determine their particular dependencies.

Working Principles

4. The Draft Ferries Plan explained that while developing the routes and services methodology, a number of working principles emerged that underpin our proposals. These principles remain and are listed below.

5. We concentrate on the correct service profile to meet the needs of the community. We do not rely on the correct vessel(s) currently being in place to deliver the model service profile. To attain the model service profile, it may first be necessary to replace a vessel(s) on a route.

6. We will ensure that there is always sufficient capacity on the route to meet demand. This may be done through demand management, especially in the shorter term.

7. We will ensure wherever possible that each island or remote peninsula community has at least one direct ferry route to the Scottish mainland.

Communities with more than one route

8. For communities with more than one route, we have further considered the approach outlined in the Draft Ferries Plan and have concluded that currently all second routes on the network offer some element of the following:

  • The opportunity of a substantial journey time saving and are therefore a main route for certain trips within that particular community; and/or,
  • They fulfil a different but important purpose to the main route. For example, the second route may be used largely for a tourism purpose as part of an island-hopping network and is therefore important to the continuation of the local economy.

9. We have concluded therefore that all second routes on the network are currently required.

Overlapping/Competing Routes

10. We will work towards combining routes that overlap and compete with one another so that we emerge with a stronger single route option.

Ferry versus Road Network - remote peninsula communities

11. There are a few communities where the ferry service is a secondary service to the road network. Here we have looked at ways in which a ferry service could provide people with a real choice, particularly if the road network still means a long journey.

New Routes

12. We will strengthen and augment existing routes rather than start up new routes. We need to recognise that we have in place a mature network of long-established routes. To introduce a new route we need to be sure that the additional benefits to a community outweigh the substantial set-up costs of a new route.

How we will prioritise funding?

13. As noted in Chapter 2, the Scottish Government is facing significant pressures on its ferries budget following the UK Government's Spending Review. We have considered how we should prioritise funding, taking this opportunity to look again with the current operator at what can be achieved across the network. This has involved careful consideration of the most advantageous way of deploying current vessels across the network. Appendix 2 summarises our proposals for rolling out the changes set out below.

Vessel Deployment

14. The deployment of individual vessels across the Clyde and Hebrides network is an operational decision for the operator and not for Scottish Ministers. Therefore, whilst we have indicated in this chapter which vessels might be deployed on particular routes, it is for the operator to reach final decisions about the most appropriate vessel for a route.

15. The proposals set out in this Ferries Plan mean that all available vessels are fully deployed. In the event of a failure on routes with only one vessel, the operator will re-deploy a vessel from a two vessels route, which may result in a temporary reduction in service on a particular route.