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Transport / Community council backs call for ferries to be included in free bus travel plan

The council ferry Leirna heading to Bressay. Photo: Shetland News

LERWICK Community Council has added to calls to extend plans for free bus travel for people under 22 to ferries.

Gary Robinson said at a meeting of the community council on Monday that someone could in theory travel by bus for free across Scotland from Dumfries to Thurso – but they could not if they lived in Shetland.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on plans to offer free bus travel for anyone aged under 22.

There have been repeated calls for the scheme to also cover ferries, which for people living on islands is in effect their bus.

Councillor Stephen Leask said he felt “it would need to be in some ways island proofed”.

Robinson added: “I think they really have to look at how this impacts on island communities.”

He said if the scheme intends to allow free bus travel across the whole of Scotland, people living on islands have a “massive barrier”.

Robinson added that he felt an equalities impact assessment, and an islands impact assessment, could potentially cover the concerns.

Lerwick Community Council agreed to raise its thoughts, which included both internal and external ferries, in response to the consultation.

The issue was also raised at a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee last week, where members were told that council officials were on the same page.