Scotland’s state-owned ferry operator plans to limit disruption on individual ferry routes to around a week at a time, according to new documents.
CalMac is launching a public consultation on the proposed changes to the strategy used to plan services when a major vessel cannot be used.
The ferry operator has faced criticism – including public protests from islanders – after repairs required for the ageing fleet led to lengthy cancelations for some routes in summer.
The service from Mallaig in the Highlands to Lochboisdale on the Hebridean island of South Uist was cancelled for weeks, including the majority of June.
Earlier this month, it emerged that sea trials for the Glen Sannox ferry – one of two delayed and over-budget replacement vessels being built for CalMac by the Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow – have been further held up due to last-minute changes.
The firm said following feedback from communities and others that a “fairer” and “more transparent” approach is needed in prioritising vessel deployments across the network during times of disruption, it has reviewed its route prioritisation framework which governs this process and is consulting on the proposed changes.
These include aiming to limit disruption to any one route to around a week at a time and to spread available vessels across multiple routes to minimise the impact on individual communities.
The plans also propose more importance being placed on island residents and commercial vehicles, and a greater priority being given to routes with a higher level of disruption.
The proposals were drawn up with Transport Scotland representatives and the Ferries Community Board.
Pauline Blackshaw, CalMac’s director of strategy and change, said: “As part of our ongoing commitment to continuously improving our services, I’m pleased to be able to present the proposed changes to the route prioritisation framework.
“Whilst we will still have to make difficult decisions about how best to distribute services during major vessel outages, these proposed changes to the route prioritisation framework are designed to reflect the feedback we received from communities.”
Comments can be made on the proposed changes here until midnight on September 24.