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The truths they don't want you to read....

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

RET - what is to be announced

Word reaches me of the announcement that the Transport Minister is to make next Tuesday on his visit to Stornoway.

I was first tipped-off by the Press Release from our MP and MSP. (Although I have to ask if the 'lowering of the water-table' that our MP promises is a good thing. It usually causes drought, or reflects the unsustainable use of assets. I think he meant 'level the playing field'.)

However, the announcement is going to be:-
  • Vehicles at 60p per mile + a £5 fee per ticket
  • The removal of the multi-ticket discounts
  • This to apply to all routes affecting the islands
  • Passenger cost details to follow
Before you start jumping up and down, do the sums, and remember that the Comhairle wanted 40p per mile (which matches with the Inland Revenue rates).

Stornoway to Ullapool 52 miles @ 60p + £5 = £36.20.
Current 6 journey ticket is £266/6 = £44.33

Leverburgh to Berneray 10 miles @ 60p + £5 = £11.00£16.00
Current 6 journey ticket is £93/6 = £15.50

Castlebay to Oban 157 miles @ 60p +£5 = £99.20
Current 6 journey ticket is £283/6 = £47.17

Assuming my arithmetic and mileages are correct, it looks very much like smoke and mirrors.

The consultants have obviously decided that the deplacement issues make assessing the cost/benefit of RET on one route would be so difficult to ascertain that it is pointless trying. As I said a long time ago.

Instead, the bullet has been bitten and we are to get everything our MP and MSP wish for. Unfortunately they have either not worked out what the implications are, or hope that delivery of RET will be welcomed regardless.

No let's be fair and point out that a single journey will - of course - be much cheaper, down from £44.33 to £36.20, but that is hardly likely to have the tourists flooding across the Minch. Another missed opportunity.

(The Council proposal at Inland Revenue rates would have resulted in Stornoway-Ullapool costing £20.80, a reduction of 53% from current rates, or 42% below the new proposals)

Update 21/2/08: I've corrected stupid one arithmetic error, and I'm trying to find definitive answers on some of the distances. I will provide a fuller analysis when I receive details of the likely passenger costs.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Angus,

As an accountant you well know statistics can be interperated any way you wish - and you have. Is there a passenger charge? If not you do not reflect those costs in your 6 ticket figures. If there is no additional passenger charges under RET and you recalculate for a family of 4 the saving is huge.

Angus said...

The costs I have quoted are for the cost of a car only. Until I know the cost for the passengers, I will make no comment.

But, RET was supposed to attract businesses to the islands, which will not happen if we are encouraging foot passengers only.

Anonymous said...

forget ret for a second and please start a thread on the committee decision taken at cnes today

Alex said...

I'm curious/cynical about that £5 per ticket fee. Is it just a means of topping up the fare to squeeze more cash out of us even under RET? Or are we to believe that's the actual cost of printing the ticket?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
eyoop said...

Anon 4:12

Thought there might be a NuLabourite waiting in the wings to try to squeeze bad news out of good, even before an official announcement is made.

Anonymous said...

Tourists flooding across the Minch (or not) would not be holding x6 tickets, so your rates for comparison on their behalf are irrelevant. The true comparison for Sy-Ullapool here (and let's say they come in the summer) is the new £36.20 vs the half-return £127/2 = £63.50, if my brain isn't failing me, which is already significant. And as first comment says the passenger charges are the key here.

Not that the rest of it is looking that good, I grant you.

Anonymous said...

And Leverburgh-Berneray would be £11, I think........

Anonymous said...

Angus
Check your distances!

Anonymous said...

eyoop obviously thinks that being palmed off with a poor deal is a good thing.

Trust you to support anything SNP regardless of how good or bad it is.

Silversprite said...

There's a point - how do they measure this? With the Berneray to Leverburgh crossing, is it:

1. As the crow flies (short, a few miles), or

2. as the ferry sails on the zig zag route across the Sound of Harris (much longer)

??

Angus said...

I used the AA website - so if the distances are wrong on the posting, it is my fault, and I will correct them.

I assume it is miles that the ferry chugs....

Anonymous said...

Was it transportation gurus Manford or Macsween that leaked this I wonder? I guess Macsween could have given the details to any of the Labour guys in the Comhairle who of course all pals with Angus now he's ex SNP. It stinks, especially if Manford is involved in the leak.

Anonymous said...

Manford's name was conspicuously absent from the SNP Press Release. Another Councillor for the chop? Independent thought is such a dangerous thing....

Anonymous said...

I would like to know where the Scottish Government got 60p per mile from. The only place where that might equate to RET is in the Western Isles where we pay extortionate rates for everything including fuel and even that is probably over egging it.

It's obvious that they had the answer and worked their way back. The only fair rate to have used was the Inland Revenue official rate for mileage of 40p per mile.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:12pm
Do you really think that they will let foot passengers travel for nothing? If so, then the only business to be in would be to build a multi storey car park in Ullapool and start a car hire business at the ferry port.

We won't know for certain the savings (if any) and as everything it will undoubtedly depend on everyone's individual circumstances and reason for travelling.

One thing for sure though seems that the people of the Western Isles are likely to have been ripped off by our elected yet again.

Silversprite said...

One of my fellow Berneray residents has just pointed out that the five quid "fixed fee" per trip is uncomfortably similar to the tolls on bridges (which have been recently removed). Interesting perspective.

I'll await the news from next week. There's implications on the Uists (lots of winners, but also some losers) if the fare between Lochmaddy and Uig tumbles.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6.21-
Leakers unlikely to be the Two Beardies, since neither of them are in the SNP\CalMac loop, remember Lochboisdale and a previous entry on this blog "Manford Mushroomed"?
Anyway bluster and blame cannot detract from the fact that, if Angus is right, and he sources are usually close to the mark, then the proposed discount scheme falls far short of being any form of RET, and may indeed leave travellers in some areas of the Western Isles worse off than before. Could this be a less than subtle way of dropping some routes?

Ahoy Sailor!

Me said...

Forget the £5 fixed fee which is scandalous in itself. 60p per mile is 50% higher than the approved claimable rate by the Inland Revenue. How can this be justified. It smacks of a figure that has been plucked from the air just to make the sums add up.

MadEddieH said...

at least they are not basing the cost per mile on the cost of the M74 extension......

Also the vast majority of my friends that would visit will not be getting 6 journey tickets but 2 singles so it IS a very good thing and WILL attract more people up to the isles.

MadEddieH said...

Also, I think the £5 fee is fair given the cost of fuel,maintenance,crew etc for the ferry

Anonymous said...

A quick check of calmac's website shows a single car journey across the minch will be £75 in the summer. So if thats reduced to £36.20 it will be a reduction of over 50% to most travellers who don't buy six journey tickets. So for the first time I can remember, crossing the minch will no longer be a complete rip off. Seems a very fair price to me to take a car across 50 miles of sea.

Anonymous said...

Angus
Re: Distances
The AA route planner for Oban to Castlebay, takes you via Mallaig! Is there something going on that we do not know about?

Anonymous said...

If it's seamiles we're talking about, it's 42 from Stornoway to Ullapool which makes it £30.20 for a car one way.

Angus you should fix your Leverburgh-Berneray maths... 10 x .6 + 5 is 11, not 16.

Anonymous said...

http://openscotland.gov.uk/Publications/2002/06/15003/8153

eyoop said...

Well, it's good to see that not everyone's donned the sackcloth and ashes at this (future) announcement...

Anonymous said...

Will these figures apply to commercial transport also and if so will we look forward to reduced transport costs to (and from) the islands or will any savings be gobbled up by the transport owners?

Angus said...

Anon 9:19 Thank you for this link.

100 nautical miles = 115.16 miles.

But is it 60p per nautical mile = 69p per landmile?

Anonymous said...

60p/nautical mile is equivalent to 52p/land mile. Are you sure you're an accountant?

Angus said...

A fair cop!

I should have said "Is it 60p per mile or 69p per nautical mile"

Hopefully all these questions and more will be answered on Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

ok - the maths monitor is retiring now!

Anonymous said...

getting rid of multiple tickets at the same time as announcing this stinks!

Anonymous said...

one opening i can see for those who will have the means and wisdom to take it up is a proper bus service for tourists, taking them round sights or to a beach for a day - perhaps local taxis could offer a rate?

Silversprite said...

1:58pm - there are some already. For example, Grenitote Travel, based in North Uist, have a fleet of coaches and do scheduled and private tours that connect with the ferries. They're quite good as well, as Catherine does an informative commentary.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I just have spin on my mind after reading your latest post ADS, but a few things worth mentioning.

You have used the price list which is about to become out of date, new prices for the summer available on the Cal Mac website. (their timetables also, by the way, make no mention of sunday sailings)

As previously pointed out most tourists will not be using the 6 journey ticket, a more interesting calculation would be comparing the tickets used most by tourists and businesses to the new prices. nb RET is meant to encourage more business into the Island, not Islanders going to and from it (though reduced prices is a happy consequence)

Finally - we (the general public) don't have any assurance on the accuracy of your figures (why don't you publish the document with the figures on it) or is this just hearsay?

Let's not jump to too many conclusions until official announcement is made.