SIC - Orkney & Shetland valuation joint board

Transport / MSP hopeful of inter-island ferries being included in free bus travel scheme

The Yell ferry Dagalien.

THE SCOTTISH Government is to carry out an islands impact assessment on plans to introduce free bus travel for people aged under 22.

This has been welcomed by Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, but he said there is a need to look at including inter-island ferry fares too for those living in the islands.

Calls were previously made for the government scheme to include ferries, as for many young islanders a trip by sea is the equivalent of a bus for people on the mainland.

Islands minister Paul Wheelhouse said in a parliamentary question that an islands impact assessment will be carried out on the free bus travel scheme.

He added that the government is “considering ferry fares policy options through our ongoing review of concessionary travel arrangements across all modes for under 26 year olds and through the Islands Connectivity Plan”.

In response McArthur said: “It would be reasonable to roll-out the same initiative on ferry travel so that young people in our islands can benefit from the same travel subsidy, and the opportunities it brings, as those living on mainland Scotland.

“I therefore welcome the minister’s willingness to ensure an island impact assessment on the scheme is carried out, which should hopefully identify the need to include ferry travel in the revised concessionary scheme when it finally comes into force.”