A new online system has opened for business at CalMac’s website today (Wednesday 17 May), providing a platform for bookings, amendments, cancellations, refunds, pet tickets, feedback, and information on passenger rights.
But after delays to its implementation, the service is still facing problems in operation, with customers reporting numerous issues and a call centre which is constantly engaged.
CalMac’s external communications manager Fiona Borland explained the scale of the work needed behind the scenes in an update on Monday (15 May).
She said: “CalMac teams have been working hard throughout the weekend to prepare our new booking and ticketing platform for launch, with good progress made on all fronts.
“We had completed the transfer of 128,000 of our total 146,000 bookings to the new system by this morning and expect this total to make a further jump this afternoon.
“However, our forecast completion has been extended due to the complexity of bookings affected by recent disruptions.
“Many of these bookings need to be transferred manually, which is taking slightly longer than anticipated.
“The accuracy and integrity of customer data and customer bookings are key, and the system will undergo a short period of stabilising and testing before our new launch date (today), but is otherwise ready to go.
“Please be assured that there is a large team of people dedicated to launching the new platform, who are working around the clock to ensure that all customer bookings are transferred accurately.
“The on-site team has been supplemented with colleagues from our suppliers and our IT team and we have other suppliers standing-by.
“We have organised a further period of around the clock working to ensure that our colleagues and customers are fully supported when the new system is opened up to our customers.”
Despite these precautions, customer reports on social media indicate a day of teething problems in operation, including inaccurate availability information and some routes showing no ferries running after lunchtime.
CalMac’s service information updates today warn that intermittent issues with logging into an online account are still being worked on, with customers asked to book online as a guest until the issue is fixed.
CalMac customer service and frontline staff are under renewed pressure as customers report software errors and bookings going missing or impossible to complete.
The ferry operator has made a plea for tolerance, saying: “The platform is new for our customers, and for our staff too. As they put their training into practice, please remember to be patient - we all really appreciate the support you show us.”
The new ‘Ar Turas’ ticketing and booking platform is live at ticketing.calmac.co.uk/B2C-Calmac/#/auth/welcoming, offering travellers the opportunity to log in and make or check on reservations.
The system is also in place in port offices – some of which closed yesterday for training – and in CalMac’s customer engagement centre. Information on how the system is supposed to work is available at www.calmac.co.uk/ticketing
Meanwhile Stornoway Port Authority has confirmed that the passenger access system at the ferry terminal at Stornoway – out of order since December last year – has now been fixed.
An SPA spokesperson said: “The passenger access system at Stornoway ferry terminal returned to service on May.
“The repairs and recommissioning works were undertaken by the manufacturer Adelte during the first week in May, with the system being fully operational once these works were completed."
Maintenance is now to be carried out to the Ullapool passenger access system, with all passengers boarding or disembarking in Ullapool on morning sailings this week required to use the car deck.
The Ullapool system will also be unavailable for all sailings on Monday 22 May.
Pictures show customers buying tickets the old-fashioned way (CalMac) and the passenger access system under construction (Adelte).