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12/05/2015

Ferry bosses seek public's view on future of lifeline services

CalMac Ferries is embarking on a major tour of Scotland's west coast communities to ask ferry users how the customer experience can be improved on their lifeline services.

 

Board members and senior executives from CalMac's parent company David MacBrayne Ltd will host 24 public meetings in mainland ports and on more than a dozen Clyde and Hebridean islands over the next month.

 

CalMac is already committed to ongoing dialogue, both formal and informal, with customer and representative groups, however, that typically focuses upon operational matters relating to the day-to-day services. This programme of public meetings - the biggest single face-to-face engagement exercise the company has undertaken with its customers since securing the last contract in 2007 - is designed to gather public views on the delivery of ferry services from 2016 onwards and, along with  the information already collected, will help shape CalMac's bid for the next contract.

 

The meetings are the latest part of the company's activities to engage with the communities that rely on ferry services and follows more than 70 meetings with key individuals and organisations undertaken last year by the team preparing CalMac's bid.

 

Hundreds of ferry users from mainland and island communities are expected to attend the meetings to give their perspective on the future of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS), operated by CalMac since 2007. That contract expires on 30th September 2016, and the process to select the operator of the next contract - for a period of up to eight years - is underway.

 

CalMac is responsible for the operation and marketing of the CHFS routes under the terms and specifications of a contract produced by Transport Scotland, a division of the Scottish Government. That contract sets out the parameters within which the service must be delivered, dictating everything from the fares charged, timetables, and routes, to the ports and vessels that must be used on those routes. The vessel fleet is owned by a separate organisation, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), which is also responsible for the design and procurement of new ships. CMAL also owns approximately half of the 50 ports and harbours on the CHFS routes and is responsible for their repair and maintenance.

 

CalMac is responsible for operating and marketing the ferry service to the specifications set by Transport Scotland, including on-board services such as retail and catering, and ongoing maintenance of the ships serving the routes.

 

Martin Dorchester, chief executive of David MacBrayne Ltd, said: "We are working hard to retain the CHFS contract next October, which is why we are seeking the views of the real experts - the people who rely on this service day in, day out.

 

"Our bid for the new contract will be shaped by the views of the people we will meet as we travel up and down the west coast over the course of the next month. It is critical that we understand our passengers' experiences of the current service and their aspirations for the future service. We'll never be able to control everything - not least the west coast weather - but there will always be ways we can improve the customer experience on our boats and it is vital that we listen to the views of our passengers if we are to submit a bid deserving of winning the next contract." 

 

The full programme of public meetings is detailed below (more details on specific venues is available at Community Engagement Meetings Schedule):

 

LOCATION

DATE

TIME

Colonsay

 

18-May

20:00 - 21:00

Mull (Fionnphort)

19-May

15:00 - 16:00

 

Mull (Tobermory)

19-May

19:00 - 21:00

 

Tarbert (Loch Fyne)

19-May

19:00 - 20:30

 

Islay

 

20-May

19:00 - 21:00

Gigha

21-May

15:00 - 16:00

 

Campbeltown

21-May

18:30 - 20:00

 

Portree

25-May

18:00 - 20:00

 

Lochmaddy

26-May

17:30 - 19:00

 

Lochboisdale

 

27-May

13:00 - 15:00

Barra

27-May

18:00 - 20:00

 

Raasay

25-May

14:00 - 15:30

 

Sleat

25-May

19:00 - 21:00

 

Tarbert (Harris)

26-May

12:30 - 14:00

 

Lewis (Stornoway)

 

26-May

19:00 - 21:00

Ullapool

27-May

18:00 - 19:30

 

Arran

1-Jun

18:00 - 20:00

 

Cumbrae

 

1-Jun

18:00 - 20:00

Bute

2-Jun

18:00 - 20:00

 

Oban

3-Jun

18:00 - 20:00

 

Lismore

 

3-Jun

15:30 - 17:00

Coll

4-Jun

14:00 - 15:30

 

Tiree

4-Jun

14:00 - 15:30

 

Small Isles: Canna, Rùm, Eigg and Muck.

5-Jun

18:00 - 20:00

 

Ends.

 

Notes to Editors:

 

1) Further information about CalMac is available at www.calmac.co.uk

 

2) Caledonian MacBrayne and CalMac are trading names of CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL). Caledonian MacBrayne, CalMac and the lion rampant device are registered trademarks of Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) and are used under licence by CalMac Ferries Ltd.

 

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