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

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

RET - the announcement

With the ferry not sailing from Ullapool, the Minister will be standing at an empty building to make his announcement, which will be that:
  • The trial period will be for 30 months (Oct 08-April 11) or until just before the next election(!)
  • Inter-island ferries (Leverburgh-Berneray and Eriskay-Barra) will be excluded from the scheme
More to follow.
  • Passengers 10p per mile + £2 per ticket
  • Commercials 18p per lane per mile + £20
  • All ferries from the Western Isles to the mainland qualify
Full press release here.

Stornoway to Ullapool - 48 miles
Castlebay to Oban - 88 miles

* Based on 6 book ticket

Commercial rates are confidential, being negotiated between each haulier and CalMac.

It is implied that no cost will rise, implying that the Castlebay-Oban cost for a car will be unchanged.

From reports of the Press Conference, it appears that inter-island fares will be unchanged.

Whilst welcoming the scheme, it is only a (modest) start towards what is actually needed. I am particularly aggrieved at the misinformation about the 60p per mile being in some way related to the the AA rates or the Inland Revenue. The former has a matrix from which I would suggest that very few local people have a vehicle in the 60p or above rate. The later is 40p per mile for the first 10,000 and 25p thereafter. So Nul Points there for silly lies.

The challenge to Labour: beat that, and give us the detail of your proposals!


Anonymous said...

if the inter island part is true that is a big blow for us island wide businesses

Anonymous said...

some may see the irony of the minister flying in to launch a project about a ferry that:

a) he never sailed on
b) did not fail at all

the SNP - bless them

Anonymous said...

So the tourist industry is going to lose out on this scheme for the summer. This will be 18 months we will have lost out on the 40% discount scheme that the Labour party promised at the last election, and all the other Islands from the Shetlands, Orknies and Argyll are still suffering.

Anonymous said...

surely a good thing

some folk are never happy

Anonymous said...

Yer a bunch of pessimists!

anon 2.37
Tourists would never have benefitted from NuLab's complex proposals only those who live on the islands.

It would be difficult (although not impossible) to bring it in for this summer as Calmac have taken a lot of money from summer bookings already. They could be reimbursed but budgets have been calculated based on predictions for the coming summer. In the long term this will benefit everybody who lives, works and visits the islands.

And Angus not everyone can afford to lay out £300 in advance to ensure they have cheap travel. The real saving is 45% (£40.60) based on a car and driver one way to Ullapool.

Anonymous said...

Commenting Mr Allan said: “People have been waiting for RET in the islands for the best part of 40 years. In all that time they have been paying far more per mile to travel than virtually anywhere in Scotland, creating a real economic disadvantage for the Western Isles.

We are still paying far more per mile, it is just that the gap has narrowed a bit.

So, the SNP have left the islands in a position of economic disadvantage. Thanks for nothing much.

Anonymous said...


You are still twisting the figures o suit your argument. Now print the comparison table to show the difference between the normal price rather than the economic 6 day ticket - whh does not apply to us all (I only use the ferry once or twice a year)and your table certainly does not show the huge savings for people like me and potential tourists.

I agree to start in october is pointless.

! said...

Just seen the piece on STV news about it. Actually they interviewed someone who looked really like you (close relative?), though obviously wasn't you as (a) was unkempt - no tie - and (b) name was spelt with a 'h' in it.

Anonymous said...

If you read the press release, you'll see that the figure of 60p per mile was suggested by consultants. They are probably a lot more informed than you or I, Angus, but perhaps you should ask for a copy of their report before leaping to conclusions.

You also claim that the government have used "silly lies". They said that the 60p was broadly consistent with AA and RAC rates, but also considered "long-standing" HMRC rates. How can you say that it a lie without having all the facts you need?

Have you considered that the AA and RAC rates available on line (and also the HMRC rates) were calculated before the recent increase in fuel prices? The rates on-line are 2007 rates, aren't they? Surely it is more appropriate to use more up-to-date fuel prices.

Labour had umpteen years to do something about RET but did nothing. Although RET fares won't come into effect in October, the SNP have followed through on their manifesto to deliver RET, and have done so within a year of being elected.

Angus said...

Anon 6:31, the 'long standing' Inland Revenue rates are the ones I linked to in my post. The AA rates (haven't checked with the RAC) are calculated on a vehicular lifetime basis used by the Revenue to justify their figures, and ignore short-term fluctuations.

I am asking for a copy of the report, and will refer to it in due course, but a wait of 6 weeks for a topic news item is just a bit much.

I've welcomed the announcement in so far as it goes and challenged Labour to better it. If they don't..... The alternative is to accept what we have, and not press for the best possible.

Silversprite: I think that was an imposter, possibly my father.

Anonymous said...

The prices you quote are based on the Winter 2007/08 fares.

It is more appropriate to base a comparison on Summer 2008 fares, since these are the fares which will be replaced by the RET fares.

On this basis, a single fare from Ullapool to Stornoway reduces from:

- £15.30 for a passenger to £6.80
- £75.00 for a car to £33.80

That's a reduction of 56% for passengers and 55% for cars.

Using a 6 journey ticket, the fare reduces from:

- £11.00 for a passenger to £6.80
- £45.17 for a car to £33.80

That's a reduction of 38% for passengers and 25% for cars.

I hope you'd agree that this is not a bad deal for tourists and locals alike.

Anonymous said...

In your post last Wednesday, you calculated a price of £99.20 for a car travelling from Castlebay to Oban.

This now appears as £57.80 in today's post.

I assume the updated figures is correct.

Anonymous said...

good to see an accountant screwing up his figures!

Anonymous said...

I think you should put a second comparison table underneath the first one angus showing the comparison to a normal single.

It's a wee bit sleekit to compare it to the 6-journey ticket and not show the cost of a proper single which would be the fare that most tourists/visitors would be looking at paying if RET wasn't in place.

Angus said...

madeddieh, having had a number of goes at producing a definative table, and not yet having a final answer, I would like to leave it until I get some more detail after the Hi-Trans meeting.

Is RET aimed at residents or tourists; individuals or businesses?

Tourists will buy 5-day returns, the rest will regularly buy 6-journey tickets, which is why I have used that as a comparator.

If RET is being brought in to attract tourists, then it is fundamentally NOT being designed to benefit the local.

Compare the inter-island service in Shetland and tell me that we shouldn't expect the same level of frequency and cost.

Anonymous said...

I would think that RET is aimed at ALL ferry users. And not everyone is a rich businessman (and former councillor with a half decent pay off cheque banked last May) like you Angus! Some of us get by on the relatively poor wages paid in the islands and cannot afford to go to the mainland three times a year (and if I could I would still be struggling to front up over three hundred quid on the off chance of future travel).

Anonymous said...

couple of points angus,

1) Tourists - vast majority would expect to stay at least 7 days -Sat through Sat (as Sun not an option) so they are unable to use the 5 day saver return they will also most likely only make one, perhaps two visits a year

2) same goes for most friends/relatives visiting friends/relatives resident in islands.

3) same goes for most residents trips off island.

4) most small business will be the ones buying multijourney tickets and one could argue that they should be on commercial rates.

5) private individuals who buy multi journey tickets are in the minority and while they are not getting as good a deal, in general it is still a better deal than they were getting, and doesn't require the lump sum investment/gamble that a multijourney ticket is.

My only concern is that on those routes that are not RET (i.e. the interisland ones) the multijourney tickets should still be available.

Anonymous said...

I'd say a comparison with normal ticket price is more realistic, certainly from my point of view. I've never purchased a 6 journey return. Although it's more than likely I will use the ferry 3 times in a year, I never know how often I will require a car for those trips. Not sure what the stats are for the proportions of the various ticket types sold on the routes affected, but wouldn't it be useful to base your analysis on that data if it is available?

Either way, this looks like an improvement for car owners.

How will this affect motorbikes? At £5+60p/mile, owners of Ducati, Moto Guzzi and Yamaha to name but a few will be disadvantaged.

Anonymous said...

There's a pretty comprehensive Q&A document about RET on CalMac's website:

It answers questions about the decision to use 60p per mile for RET, for example.

Anonymous said...

"Islanders rejoice as ferry fares are slashed"

Only Donnie MacInnes (husband of SNP local branch chair Cathy MacInnes) could write such a headline and believe that he is reporting fact.

I personally heard the Free Church rehearsing a new psalm in praise of Stewart Stevenson.

There had been fears expressed that perhaps only one route, or possibly two, would benefit but there was delight when it was announced that the pilot scheme would cover all routes from the Islesto the mainland

Yes, lucky us, we got, not one, not two BUT three!!!!! If you weren't rejoicing before, I'm sure you are now..

Blessed are we, for we are so lucky that the SNP have deigned to give us a pilot sheme lasting just up until the next election for RET. It doesn't matter that once you are on the islands, if you want to travel around you still have to pay the same exorbitant fares that you have always paid, at least you don't have to pay as much to get away and for that we are truly thankful.

BUT the clincher for me was:

"housewives and others will be looking for lower prices in shops throughout the islands"

You patronising b*****d.

Someone give the editor of the gazette a kick up the backside. How the hell did this report get through as being "non biased"??

Anonymous said...

It was only to be expected that the usual doomsayers would come out again, whatever was announced. Fortunately though, they only seem to exist on this blog.

I thought the Gazette did rather a good job of reporting the welcome given to RET. Lots of pleased faces, upbeat assessments and almost an entire page of letters (again) against the wind factory. Even the West Highland Free Press gritted its teeth and gave it a broad welcome.

It must be galling for some though to witness the SNP deliver in a few months what Labour didn't deliver many years was it?

Anonymous said...

Sunny Side Up,

I hope you'd agree that lowering ferry fares through RET is a good thing for the isles.

Rather than have a go at the local paper, how about offering a simple "well done" to the government for delivering RET, as promised.

Anonymous said...

I bought the 'Labour Rag' (aka WHFP) today to see what negative spin they would put on the RET announcement. Obviously they could not find their angle so the editor came on here at 9.43 and put what would have preferred to be on his front page as an anonymous comment.

Anonymous said...

There's a pretty comprehensive Q&A document about RET on CalMac's website:

It answers questions about the decision to use 60p per mile for RET, for example.

Do you not think that the CalMac view is also that of its owner and funder, the Scottish Government? Hardly an independent source.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:30am
Agree entirely. If RET had been introduced at a lower rate then Calmac may have been tasked with making efficiency savings and no government agency wants to have to do that. The 60p per mile is not justifiable whichever way anyone looks at it, it was the number the government needed to make the maths add up.

gawatm - I have never bought or read the WHFP in my life

Eyoop, last time I looked I existed. The comment was't anti RET it was anti Gazette. "Upbeat assessments and lots of pleased faces and another virtually entire page of anti-wind farm letters."

Do you really believe what you write? Do you really believe that the Gazette is neutral? If so then I feel very sorry for you and the many like you who think that the Gazette report the news and not what the SNP feed them.

Anonymous said...


"Do you really believe what you write?"

Yes. I can't believe what you write sometimes though.

"Do you really believe that the Gazette is neutral?"

Who said anything about neutral? I didn't. Show me a paper that is totally politically neutral. You'll have great difficulty finding one. Start off with the West Highland Free Press. You really should start reading it, you'd enjoy it tremendously :-)

Neutral or not, the SyG makes a damn sight less miserable reading than your incessantly critical, bitter and personal posts.

Thanks so much for the offer of "feeling sorry for me" (and so big of you to feel sorry for others too), but no need to on my account. NuLabour are out on their ass, the LWP windfactory, fingers and toes crossed, is about to crash for good, and RET is coming for local and tourist alike. Marvellous.



Anonymous said...

Sunny Side Up,

You say that 60p per mile is "not justifiable". What are you talking about? The press release explains that the figure came from "experienced consultants specialising in transport and economics".

The introduction of RET has resulted in lower fares for the islands. If you cannot offer a simple "well done" to the government for introducing RET and lowering fares to/from the island, it makes you look like you're suffering a case of sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

The only problem I can see so far is how do you get out of the situation we had last week if we had RET, when we had the bad weather. The ferry went up and down the Minch a couple of times, on this occassion abandoned the crossing, but if it had, then that would work out at travelling 110 miles @10p plus £2 plus £33 for the car single making a total of £46 quid. Someone somewher will have to pay for the ferry fuel on those occassions.