Following a successful pilot in 2016, customers on the Ullapool-Inverness coach route should once again benefit from extra capacity following an agreement by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink and the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS).
Coach operator Scottish Citylink, which operates the service, already regularly deploys an additional coach whenever bookings for the service exceed the capacity more than 48 hours in advance of the departure time. Scottish Citylink has previously confirmed that it also deploys additional coaches every Friday, Saturday and Monday on its summer services between Monday 22nd May and Saturday 30th September 2017.
As the coach operator runs the service on a commercial basis without any public sector investment, it cannot guarantee that it can add in extra vehicles to the route with less than 48 hours' notice unless the level of demand covered the operational costs. At the meeting all parties agreed that it was not commercially viable for the operator to ensure that sufficient capacity could always be provided for anyone expecting to travel without a booking but that they would work together with the aim to ensure that this increased capacity service would be deployed wherever possible when passengers made an advance booking.
As in 2016, an agreement has also now been put in place by the Comhairle and HITRANS with Scottish Citylink to ensure that, if additional capacity is required and can feasibly be deployed at short notice, any operational losses incurred by Scottish Citylink would be underwritten by these two parties.
Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chair of the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said: “We very much welcome the cooperation of Scottish Citylink and the opportunity to collaborate with HITRANS in seeking to reduce the likelihood of passengers being stranded in either Inverness or Ullapool. We do however need to emphasise that, for operational reasons, this additional capacity cannot in any way be completely guaranteed by the operator and there remains a very real imperative that all passengers should make every effort to book as far in advance as possible of when they intend to travel from either Inverness or Ullapool”.
Peter Knight, Operations Director at Scottish Citylink said: ‘In trying to provide the best possible service to all passengers on the Ullapool to Inverness route we will continue to work with all parties to try and ensure that sufficient capacity can be deployed in time, however I would again urge all of our customers to help us achieve this by booking the service well in advance.
Bookings can be made from the Scottish Citylink website by using your debit or credit card or by phone to our call centre on 0141-352-4444.’ (open 24hrs)