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GREENOCK Operator Set To Take Over Troubled Ferry Route

GREENOCK company Clyde Marine look set to be awarded a £325,000 contract to take over running of the Gourock to Kilcreggan ferry service.

The Victoria Harbour-based firm submitted the only compliant bid to Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT). The cost is £77,000 more per year than under the current contract which was awarded to Clydelink and has been plagued with reliability issues.

Transport officials are recommending that the SPT Operations Committee go head with the Clyde Marine deal for at least a year from 15 July. It would be based on the current timetable.

They are also urging a review of fares as they estimate the subsidy per passenger journey will rise to £5.90 from the current £4.50.

They state: "This is substantially in excess of what would normally be regarded as an acceptable subsidy cost but, in view of the anticipated transfer of responsibility for the service to the Scottish Government, it is felt that award of this contract should proceed meantime.

"To mitigate the impact of this increase in cost to the public purse, however, a review of the current fares structure will be undertaken."

The Minister for Transport and the Islands intimated in 2016 that the Scottish Government had agreed in principle to assume responsibility for the service and indicated that the likely method of achieving that was by incorporating the Kilcreggan service into the Gourock – Dunoon ferry contract, which was scheduled for renewal in July 2017. The projected date of transfer was to be July 2018.

However, the Scottish Government later announced a Policy Review of Ferry Procurement and this paused all tendering processes pending the outcome of that review. The projected transfer date of July 2018 is now unlikely to be achieved which prompted SPT to seek bids for the service for 12 months from July, extendable for up to seven years.

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