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Transport / Transport man supports extending free bus travel for under-19s to ferries

THE CHAIRMAN of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee has backed calls for proposed free bus travel for under 19s to be extended to ferries.

Councillor Ryan Thomson said he “fully agrees” with the suggestion, which has been made to the Scottish Government by a group representing communities on the west coast which use CalMac services.

Free bus travel for anyone aged 18 and under was one initiative that stemmed from an agreement made with the Scottish Green Party last week on the Scottish Government’s draft budget for the year ahead.

North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson. Photo: Shetland NewsChair of the SIC’s transport and environment committee, councillor Ryan Thomson. Photo: Shetland News

The CalMac Community Board has written to the government to request the proposed scheme is extended to ferries, saying that for many young islanders a trip by sea is the equivalent of a bus for people on the mainland.

Thomson, who also chairs Shetland’s transport partnership ZetTrans, said extending the initiative to inter-island ferries would “help young Shetlanders and improve their opportunities to work, study and socialise from our remote islands”.

Shetland Islands Council already offers a significant discount for under 19s, with tickets for youngsters – as well as OAPs – priced at £1.10 compared to £5.70 for adults.

A ten-journey multi-ticket can also be bought for £6.40.

“In Shetland, both bus and ferry services are of equal importance to travel around our islands, and many consider the ferry service to be their ‘bus’, it is just an extension of the road,” Thomson said.

“I support Angus Campbell of the Calmac Community Board on this, and both ZetTrans and Shetland Islands Council would welcome the opportunity to contribute to any potential change.”