|First summer run a success.
Explore Campbeltown has welcomed the news that the first summer run of the Ardrossan to Campbeltown ferry has been a success.
Figures from CalMac show that an average of 71 passengers and 10 cars made each sailing, which, considering the route was launched very quickly with no advance marketing, is a healthy number.
Figures are expected to grow further when the second year of the three-year trial begins in May 2014 when the route is included in CalMac’s brochures and timetables well in advance of its first sailing.
It is important that all businesses in the area help to spread the word about the ferry by mentioning it to as many customers as possible.
At the end of the three year trial, the Scottish Government will decide if the route has been popular enough to be run every summer on an ongoing basis so it is vital that we do all we can to ensure its success.
A representative from Explore Campbeltown recently attended a meeting on Arran with Councillor John Semple and representatives of CalMac, Transport Scotland and Arran tourist groups where potential changes to the timetable were discussed.
We backed Councillor Semple’s propsal that the ferry should make its first run to Campbeltown on Friday mornings, rather than Thursday evenings, and that the last sailing back to Ardrossan should be on a Monday rather than Sunday. It was also proposed that a Saturday return trip from Campbeltown should be possible, along with later departure times from Campbeltown rather than the 7.30am start that was in place this year.
However, it is not straightforward when it comes to changing the timetable as the vessel used, the MV Isle of Arran, is also used to provide extra sailings from Ardrossan to Brodick on Arran and any alterations to the Campbeltown sailings have a knock-on effect for that route. When agreeing to trial the route, the Scottish Government tied the Ardrossan-Campbeltown and Ardrossan-Brodick sailings together so both must be considered together when the timetable is discussed.
What was put to the meeting from our side was felt to be the best-case scenario for Campbeltown and, while it would be great if Councillor Semple’s proposal is adopted, it is more likely that we may only get some of what was asked for.
It will be the Scottish Government Transport Minister Keith Brown who makes the final decision but even if we can get a Monday departure as a minimum that would be a positive development. At the very least, we will get the same service that we got this year. We should hope the Mr Brown’s fellow Cabinet Minister and Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell is able to have a word in his ear and maybe sway the decision!
It is also important to recognise the work that Councillor Semple has put in to getting the ferry off the ground. Despite political changes at Argyll and Bute Council, Cllr Semple hopes to retain his position on the Kintyre Initiative Working Group’s ferry sub committee, despite losing his lead councillor role within Argyll and Bute. Continuity is important in these matters and it would be a great shame if Cllr Semple’s knowledge of the processes involved has to be replaced due to political squabbling.
Explore Campbeltown representatives also attended a meeting with CalMac two weeks ago regarding the marketing of the route so work is very much ongoing to build on a successful first summer.
We will keep you updated of any news or progress as it happens.
On behalf of Explore Campbeltown
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