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Transport / Ferry service could reduce further

The Yell ferry Dagalien. Photo: SIC

THERE is a possibility that inter-island ferry services may be reduced further, according to Shetland Islands Council chief executive Maggie Sandison.

Four main routes – Bluemull Sound, Yell Sound, Whalsay and Bressay – are now on a reduced Saturday timetable as part of attempts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Sandison said on Monday that the council would be engaging further with island communities, with the chance that services could reduce again.

It came after the council restricted transport on the ferries to critical travel only for islanders and people providing essential services.

A key part of the reduction in journeys relates to maintaining a service amid possible staff absence, although usage will inevitably drop as more people stay at home.

“What we’re doing at the moment is applying the Saturday timetable, but we will be engaging with communities,” Sandison said.

“Basically the advice is very clear: there should be no travel unless it’s for particular purposes. There shouldn’t be any social traveling – it should be you’re either doing grocery shopping, travelling to work and travelling to care.

“One of the things we want to do is look at the need for people to travel to work, so we’re making sure that we’re actually meeting the islands’ need. There is a possibility that we may drop down again, but some of that may be about trying to build a bit more resilience into the system.

“So if we can have a crew and a spare, that’s a really good thing because we’ve got resilience.”

Sandison added that future changes to the service “might mean moving people around different areas of Shetland”.

At the moment normal timetables still apply on the Skerries, Fair Isle, Foula and Papa Stour ferry routes.

 

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