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The so-called lifeline ferry service on Arran has been discussed ad-nauseam in this paper and in numerous national titles.
Two ferry lobbying groups on Arran, numerous politicians on all sides of the political divide, local businesses and a cancer charity are all calling for improvements to the ferry service yet, here we are again, facing critical issues with transport when it is needed most.
It barely needs mentioning that this island community, and many just like it, have been patiently waiting for the day we can open up again and start on the long road to economic recovery after a ruinous year owing to Covid. Businesses are on the verge of insolvency, cafes and shops are crying out for custom and people’s mental health has suffered. But now restrictions have been eased, we face another obstacle to recovery.
Anecdotally, for some the unreliability of the ferry has become the proverbial straw that has broken the camel’s back and they have moved house to the mainland. Thankfully, most tourist businesses on Arran are location-specific, so there will not be a mass exodus to mainland locations where customers and businesses can be united.
But therein lies the problem, businesses on Arran are, for the most part, ‘stuck’ here and subject to the vagaries of the ferry service.
There is no easy solution and the news that more than half of CalMac’s fleet is operating past its life expectancy will offer cold comfort for those concerned about the future. What is clear though, is that a drastic shake-up, and nothing less, is urgently required.