RESIDENTS of Whalsay and Fair Isle are to be asked for their views on the capacity and reliability of their ferry services to help Shetland Islands Council make a specific business case that could lead to additional funding from the Scottish Government.
Islanders in Whalsay have been very vocal in expressing their dissatisfaction with the level of service over recent months, submitting a petition calling for the reinstatement of a second weekend ferry.
Chairman of the council’s environment and transport committee Ryan Thomson said funding applications have to be evidence based to have a chance of being successful.
“To make successful bids to the government for funding we have to follow a process laid out by HM Treasury and adopted by Transport Scotland,” he said.
“It is complex and takes time, but at stake is the immediate future of our ferries service and the communities it supports.
“We hope that with the right information and political support, these outline business cases can lead relatively quickly to some very good outcomes.”
The key areas to be looked at over the coming months will be the service to Whalsay, a replacement ferry for Fair Isle, and general improvements across the wider ferry service.
The questionnaire will not cover fixed links to Whalsay as this will be dealt with separately in early 2019 as part of the Scottish Government’s work on its national transport strategy, the SIC said.
The Whalsay survey asks all residents over 16 how they use the ferries, any constraints on travel (e.g. capacity, fares etc) and whether additional journeys would be made if the service were to be improved.
The survey will be conducted online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WHALSAY-RESIDENT-SURVEY although paper copies complete with reply paid envelopes will also be available at the Whalsay Leisure Centre and on the ferries.
Fair Isle residents over the age of 16 will receive a postal survey with a separate survey being carried out for visitors to the Fair Isle Bird Observatory.