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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-17254: Colin Smyth (South Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 14 June 2018

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) scheme on routes in the current contract for Northern Isles Ferry Services.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 26 June 2018

Our 2016 manifesto stated we will take action to reduce ferry fares to Orkney and Shetland. We have been working hard to try and meet that commitment as soon as it can be done.

On 22 August 2017, I announced plans to introduce reduced passenger and car fares within the first half of 2018. The announced fares options were:

  • Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) on the Scrabster – Stromness route; and
  • a variant of RET on the longer Aberdeen to Kirkwall/Lerwick routes.

Transport Scotland has been working with the commercial ferry operators on the Pentland Firth with the aim of reaching an agreement that provides compliance with State aid and Competition rules. This is a challenging and technical piece of work, however the Scottish Government continues to seek a positive outcome.

I am aware that there is keen interest in the Northern Isles for further news on this issue. Details on the way forward will be made available as soon as possible.

Should passengers who have already booked and paid for tickets travel after fares are reduced, ferry operators have agreed they will refund the difference.