Herald poll: Should ferry routes in Scotland be privatised?

Gordon Ross, managing director of Western Ferries, wrote in The Herald that the state’s CalMac has stopped serving island communities and confidence has collapsed.

He said routes should be “unbundled”, giving private companies the opportunity to bridge the gap and offer services across Scotland.

Mr Ross said: “There is also no doubt that frustration is reaching boiling point on the west coast of Scotland, and rightly so.”

“It’s difficult to find an island community that is happy with their current service. However, there may still be hope, as evidenced by CalMac’s recent charter of the MV Alfred, as well as other recent and more notable individual charters.

“In these and other situations, CalMac and Scottish Ministers have had to accept that public sector delivery does not meet the needs of communities, businesses, visitors or even their own individual needs.”

The long-standing problems with Scotland’s ferries show no signs of going away and we want to know: is Mr Ross right? Is it time for the private sector to run ferry services in Scotland?

Vote now in our exclusive Herald reader poll

The Herald has been at the center of pioneering developments in the ferry network and will continue to be at the forefront of reporting on the subject.

Here are some of our latest exclusives:

Western Ferries boss says CalMac shouldn’t have a ferry monopoly

‘Holyrood protects Calmac’: Should key ferry services be privatised?

Auxiliary ship drafted as CalMac ferry collapses for second time

Mr Ross’ appeal comes amid a major protest by islanders on South Uist after they lost almost all services in June due to problems with ferry cancellations and delayed annual maintenance checks.

Western Ferries, which operates a frequent year-round car and passenger service between Gourock and Dunoon, made a pre-tax profit of £2.5m in 2021/22, while subsidized Scottish state-owned company CalMac posted a loss of £2.35m. £ listed.

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