CalMac booms after fare reductions

Fare cuts have helped CalMac continue strong growth this year, new figures showed today.

Passenger numbers increased by 7.1 per cent to 1.87 million between January and May compared to the same period last year.

Total cars transported climbed even faster, by 8 per cent to 502,000, and coaches by 8.6 per cent to 2,900.

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The figures show the boom triggered by fares being reduced by ministers across the Scottish Government-owned firm’s west coast network has continued.

2016 was the first full year that customers on all its routes benefited from the savings under the road equivalent tariff scheme.

CalMac, which runs the UK’s largest ferry network, also increased sailings by 1.8 per cent to 59,626 in the first five months of this year.

Bill Gibbons, director of industry body Discover Ferries, which published the figures, said: “Caledonian MacBrayne have recently reduced their prices for cars and passengers, and they have been incredibly successful in attracting new visitors to the stunning Scottish isles.”

Shetland Island Ferries recorded a 0.4 increase in passengers to 290,000 while Orkney Ferries’ total was down by 2.2 per cent to 108,000.

On the Northern Ireland routes from Cairnryan, P&O saw passenger numbers to Larne up by 5.1 per cent to 138,000 while Stena Line’s total to Belfast increased by 1.3 per cent to 296,000.