Key Summary of Public Meeting 9/4/19

A group of nine island residents called a public meeting to seek opinions about what might be done to improve our lifeline ferry service, currently provided by CalMac. 164 people attended and many spoke. Below is a summary of the main points raised verbally. A database of further written suggestions from 50 attendees is being compiled. in demanding service improvements and accountability in future investment decisions.
The Action Group

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Where are our ferries?

Brodick Webcam
  • The new Brodick terminal is too big, with too many stairs; the berth is vulnerable to easterly winds. After spending in excess of £30m the service is now worse than before.
  • Mistakes made at Brodick should not be repeated at Ardrossan. In particular, misalignment of the berth and poor design, resulting in accessibility problems. Thought through sensibly, improvement costs can be drastically reduced at Ardrossan.
  • Why are we getting such a large boat when the consensus was that two medium-sized boats would provide the most reliable service?
  • The size of the new ferry means that tens of millions will have to be spent altering Ardrossan harbour.
  • Two medium sized boats are what we really need. These would fit in Ardrossan without expensive alteration. If one boat breaks down we would still have half a service. Smaller boats would also be able to dock at Wemyss Bay.
  • Naval architect Sam Bourne queried why CMAL are not building a small fleet of medium sized boats which would fit in all the harbours. This would provide for economy of scale such that six medium sized boats could be built for the price of two or three one-off designs. This approach would streamline engineering and reduce the cost of maintenance and spares.
  • Reliability is key. Sometimes you have to leave the island three days in advance to ensure you can catch a flight.
  • Unreliability makes life very difficult for people with hospital appointments. This is compounded by the inability to book because of capacity issues caused by RET and pre-booked freight.
  • A previous system of freight allocation with advance notification worked well and avoided empty decks while cars are turned away.
  • No current use of a port of refuge; the boat just ties up. In the past it nearly always sailed at least once to Gourock, a demonstrably safe harbour.
  • Key issue is that the service is not reliable. Life is made very difficult because of this.
  • CMAL and Transport Scotland are just not listening.

    At the end of the meeting there was unanimous agreement that our current service in not fit for purpose and similar support for the constitution of an Action Group to take matters forwards. Several individuals, with a range of relevant experience and skills, volunteered to join the steering group.

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