FORGET about investment in ferries and build tunnels instead – that was the message from one senior elected member in the council chamber on Monday.
North Mainland member Alastair Cooper also backed the idea of free bus travel in Shetland.
His comments came during a discussion at Shetland Islands Council’s policy and resources committee about a review of Shetland’s public transport fare policy, which is getting underway.
Transport policy and projects officer Robina Barton said funding had been secured to carry out the project.
The review aims to give “full consideration” to the choices which may be possible around fares.
Some have recently called for public transport, or at least bus journeys, to be made free to reduce inequality and encourage people to leave their car at home.
A Shetland public transport fares reference group has also been set up to reflect a range of views on the matter, including representatives from the council, the NHS, Ability Shetland and VisitScotland.
Barton added that there will also be public engagement around fare policy in early December.
Environment and transport committee chairman Ryan Thomson said social inclusion and the ability to afford travel was a key factor.
“There are things going forward that we can change I think to help particular those on low incomes and those in the more remote areas to have access to services at an affordable level,” he said.
Cooper, meanwhile, said he was “looking forward to the day” when bus journeys in Shetland are free, saying it could help the “small pockets of poverty” in the isles.
He noted the mention of “investment in the ferry services” in a report on the review and said he would rather see the focus shifted to fixed links.
The idea of fixed links, such as tunnels, is broadly welcomed among the council but the high cost is prohibitive.
“I don’t want to see investment in the ferry services, I want to see tunnels built, with the exception of probably Foula and Fair Isle,” Cooper said.
“We need to get away from this notion that it’s all about ferry services, we need to find ways in getting folk to move freely, and a free bus service through a tunnel would be my solution for the lower income groups in Shetland.
“So, forget about ferries – go for tunnels.”
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 540 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News