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More cuts to Scottish island ferry prices

Written by Fiona October 29 2014

There are so many things I like about outdoors Scotland – and one of my biggest loves is the islands. I have visited them and written about them on many occasions, and I especially enjoy the wealth of walking and cycling opportunities.

Now my love thing is about to grow stronger  thanks to news of cheaper ferry prices. If you are not already aware, there is a thing called the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET).

Enjoying a trip to Cumbrae with Little Miss and Wispa the Wonder Whippet.

Enjoying a trip to Cumbrae with Little Miss and Wispa the Wonder Whippet.

The RET is a government-backed initiative and links ferry fares to the cost of travelling an equivalent distance on land. It covers fares for passengers, cars, small commercial vehicles and coaches.

Already the RET has been applied the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree services (in 2008) and Islay, Colonsay and Gigha (in 2012). And from this week it also applies to Arran (one of my favourite islands, by the way).

From Monday (November 3,2104), the cost of a return car journey from Ardrossan to Brodick, on Arran, will be £29.70 – down from £70. Passenger-only return journeys will cost £4 less at £7.30. Bikes, as always, travel free.

The plan is to roll out RET to 14 more ferry routes in October next year. They include Barra, Mull, Eigg, Skye, Raasay, Cumbrae, Muck and Rum.

The routes to be added in October 2015 will be:

  • Berneray – Leverburgh
  • Barra – Eriskay
  • Sconser – Raasay
  • Mallaig – Armadale
  • Mallaig – Eigg – Muck – Rum – Canna
  • Oban – Craignure
  • Tobermory – Kilchoan
  • Lochaline – Fishnish
  • Fionnphort – Iona
  • Oban – Lismore
  • Wemyss Bay – Rothesay
  • Colintraive – Rhubodach
  • Largs – Cumbrae
  • Tarbert – Portavadie

While tourists and outdoors fans (as well as the businesses that serve them) are delighted by RET there are some who aren’t so happy.

Operators of heavy goods lorries, for example, were angered by the withdrawal of their road equivalent tariff discounts in 2012. The government later provided funding to lessen the impact of the move.

Meanwhile, the Northern Isles have also been calling for RET to be applied to routes serving Orkney and Shetland.

Anyhow, tell me how you plan to make use of the cheaper ferry costs to the Scottish islands. Perhaps you’ll go on an island hopping holiday or attempt the Five Ferries Cycle route or attend any one of a host of running, cycling or walking events on the islands.

My next island plans include a ferry, cycle, walk and run of Goatfell on Arran in one day and a walking/running round of the 22 McPhies hills on Colonsay and Oronsay.

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