One cheer for the blatant electioneering that delivers nothing much, but the opportunity for the next Government (whoever they might be) to cancel the 'pilot'.
The fare reductions are A Good Thing. But, by themselves they achieve little of lasting benefit for the islands. It is only as part of a wider strategy that they will actually be of great and lasting benefit to the islands.
The failure of RET has been that the necessary infrastructure - bigger and more frequent ferries - aren't even on the horizon with CalMac having announced that they (for which read the Government) hasn't got the cash.
We have ferries that locals can't get onto; tourists who arrive at the ferry ports to find that last minute bookings are impossible; and, a change in the nature of the visitors, with more camper vans arriving. I've had hoteliers tell me that they are regularly 'full' until the visitors reach the port of departure and find they cannot get on the ferry. One 'full' hotel in Uist lost over half it's guests the night I was there, for that very reason.
The islands need to adapt, and that means new investment in new hotels and new facilities to meet the new demand, and the unmet demand that is sitting on the quay at Ullapool, Oban or Uig.
A one year extension doesn't deliver that, and no developer in their right mind will pump large sums into renovating, extending or adapting their hotel or guest house on the back of such a vague and weak promise.
By providing the capital for better ferries and more frequent services, the Government should see the economic regeneration of the islands, which can only be good for everyone, and will be a constructive use of taxpayers money.
If you drive across the new, wonderful, causeways in Uist, you have a beautiful dual carriageway that is straight, smooth and safe; if you ignore the bizarre single-lanes at the bridges. But at either end you still have single track with passing places.
The cheap ferries are the new causeways, and their effectiveness is largely destroyed by the constraints at either end, which in this case is ferry capacity at one end and structural developments at the other. The solution is in the politicians promises that were made many, many years ago.
Oh yes, and why is the Uist-Harris ferry excluded from RET?