A study looking at the future of ferry links to, from and within the Outer Hebrides has been launched, Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf has announced.
Mr Yousaf said: “Our ferry services play a crucial role for the communities of the Clyde and Hebrides and we want to progressively renew the fleet operating on these routes and ensure the provision of suitable services to meet the needs of island communities and businesses, in line with available funding.”
Transport Scotland has commissioned a team of consultants to undertake this work, in line with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG). They will be visiting communities throughout the Outer Hebrides to speak with ferry users, businesses, visitors and local representatives, as they look to identify and assess potential options for future investment and the provision of services.
This work will take place during 2018 and a report will be published by the end of the year.
Mr Yousaf continued: “This study will look at potential options for the future of the network serving the Outer Hebrides, including potentially adapting timetables, procuring new vessels, redeploying some of the existing ferries and upgrading harbours.
“Our consultants will speak with local stakeholders and the public to hear their views and help identify and assess options for the long-term provision of ferry services. I would encourage people to take part in this process.”
He added: “We have also published our updated Vessel Replacement and Deployment Plan. This gives an overview of how existing, planned and prospective vessels could be deployed across the Clyde and Hebrides network to deliver our Ferries Plan commitments and better meet forecast demand.
“Our ferry services are iconic transport links that play a vital role for our island economies. Making sure they continue to support the communities they serve will always remain at the heart of our ferry operations.”
The Vessel Replacement and Deployment Plan has identified the Outer Hebrides as a priority area. The latest version of the plan, published today, can be viewed at the Transport Scotland website at: www.transport.gov.scot