More than 17,000 ferry journeys were either cancelled or delayed last year, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
Some 11,301 journeys were cancelled in 2022 while another 5,781 were late, marking a five-year high for disruption.
It’s the first time the proportion of ferries which did not arrive as planned broke the 10% barrier, according to the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures.
Since 2018, there have been 43,421 cancelled ferries and a further 27,121 which arrived late.
The figures also showed that the amount of compensation payments doubled in 2022 to £454,000. In the last five years, more than £1.1m has been paid out.
The revelation follows a separate FOI request by the Scottish Liberal Democrats that found the repair bill for CalMac’s ageing fleet has passed £100m in the last five years.
And earlier this week, the Scottish Government admitted the second lifeline ferry being built at the nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard is so over budget it would be cheaper to build a brand new vessel.
Islanders have faced disruption as they await the unnamed 802 vessel, alongside the 802 Glen Sannox, both of which have seen multiple delays and are three times over budget.
Willie Rennie, the party’s former leader, accused the Scottish Government of treating islanders with neglect.
He said: The SNP have neglected our island communities, as they continue to mismanage Scotland’s ferry network.
“These latest figures show that it’s a roll of the dice whether your lifeline service will be late or cancelled.
“This has a real-world impact. Businesses can’t get the supplies they need and families are struggling to get to critical medical appointments.
“Ministers need to explain why years of underinvestment that led us here were ever allowed.
“We need the Scottish Government to invest in island ferries and put together a long-term plan for replacing boats which have been in use for decades.”
Transport minister Kevin Stewart said: “There have been ongoing technical issues with vessels resulting in delays to the annual overhaul programme and disruption to sailings.
“Should cancellations occur due to these technical issues or poor weather then a full refund will be provided to the customer, as I’m sure we all would expect.
“This is not just about transport performance in itself; it’s about delivering the confidence needed to sustain island populations.
“We recognise the impact that delays and disruption have regrettably had on our island communities and I am committed to investing in our ferry services.
“Delivering six new major vessels to serve Scotland’s ferry network by 2026 is a priority for this government.
“We have invested more than £2bn in our ferry services since 2007 and we have outlined plans to invest around £700m in a five-year plan to improve ferry infrastructure.
“We share the desires of island communities for sustainable and effective ferry services and look forward to continuing our constructive engagement with them on future services and vessel replacements.”
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