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Transport / Help for those affected by changes to ferry voucher scheme

NorthLink passenger ferry Hjaltland berthing at Holmsgarth. Photo: Shetland News

AN EVENT is taking place in Lerwick next month to support anyone who needs help with the upcoming changes to way NorthLink concessionary ferry vouchers are issued.

The session is taking place at the Lerwick Library on 13 March between 10am and 1pm.

As previously reported, vouchers – providing free passenger travel to and from the Scottish mainland or Orkney for passengers such as those over 60 or people with a disability – will no longer be issued in paper form.

Instead, they will be stored electronically on eligible residents’ National Entitlement Card (also known as ‘Saltire card’ ‘or ‘free bus pass’ or YoungScot card).

Digital ferry vouchers will be ready to add onto residents’ cards from 1 March 2024, and available for use from 1 April to 31 March 2025.

Digital ferry vouchers will need to be added to a card each year. This can be done at any point before travel and does not prevent advance booking.

The digital vouchers are downloaded using the Transport Scot Pass Collect App on a smartphone.

For anyone having difficulty or who does not have a smartphone, this can be carried out by a friend, relative, or staff at Shetland Islands Council’s transport planning service, the NorthLink ferry terminal and the Lerwick Library, Citizens Advice Bureau, Royal Voluntary Service and Shetland Community Connections.

Transport Scotland has sent out a letter and information sheet to all eligible concessionary residents this month.

The council’s transport policy and projects officer Robina Barton said: “We’re aware some people might feel overwhelmed by this change, so we’re holding an event in the Lerwick Library on Wednesday 13 March between 10am – 1pm where people can get help adding the vouchers to their cards.

“Our transport planning staff at 8 North Ness are there to help, as are staff at the NorthLink Terminal – just make sure you have your NEC card with you.

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“To redeem vouchers, your NEC card will be scanned by ferry check-in staff on a card reader just like when you travel on the bus.

“Ferry staff can also add vouchers when you travel.

“We’d also stress the importance of letting the council’s transport planning service know if you have moved in the last 12 months or so – as around 100 ferry vouchers are unclaimed each year, due to out-of-date addresses.

“If you’re not sure that the address held for you is up-to-date please get in touch with the service so we can check for you and change it if necessary – just call 01595 744868 or email transport@shetland.gov.uk.”

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