From Craig Cowbrough
Cowbrough Communications ltd
CalMac has seen passenger numbers drop by 95% since new rules on essential ferry travel were put in place.
The west coast ferry operator introduced an essential lifeline timetable last week aimed at keeping essential goods, services and people going to and from the islands.
Since then the company has carried just 2593 passengers compared to 57,233 for the same period last year, a drop of 95%. Some services are running with just one or two passengers along with the essential goods and services.
‘It is hugely encouraging that the public are paying attention to the Government advice of do not travel unless your journey is absolutely essential,’ said CalMac’s Managing Director, Robbie Drummond.
‘We are fully committed to keeping lifeline services running to the islands we support, bringing in food, fuel and medical supplies and taking off goods vital to keeping local economies running. The vast majority of people are getting that message loud and clear and we are only turning away a very small number at our ports.”
Throughout March commercial vehicles are also down by 32% over the same period last year.
CalMac operates a fleet of 33 vessels servicing 28 routes from Campbeltown in the south to Stornoway in the north.
Robbie added, ‘This has been an extremely challenging time for our staff and our communities, and I want to praise both for the way in which they have handed these unique circumstances.”
CalMac is seeking evidence of Island residency or key worker status for all customers on all sailings. Commercial customers have been made aware that they are expected to provide evidence to their drivers that they are carrying essential goods or providing essential services as defined by the Scottish Government.
CalMac has also published essential travel guidance on its website and last Thursday it published posters at ports and on vessels about essential travel and self-isolation.