Fairer fares on Orkney Ferries
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We ask Orkney Islands Council to introduce a ferry discount scheme for the residents of the North and Inner Isles to allow those residents to purchase single and return ferry tickets at a reduced rate that is the same as the current discount price for bulk purchase of 50 tickets.
More information: Audit Scotland Report: http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/report/transport-scotlands-ferry-services
For those of us who live in the North or Inner Isles, the ferry service provided by Orkney Islands Council is a life-line. Without the Council subsidising the Scottish Government by £2.5m a year to provide the service, we would be very isolated indeed. Without a regular Ferry Service, the economy of the islands would suffer, the populations would soon dwindle, and many islands might become completely uninhabited. However, many of us struggle to afford the cost of the fares which is why Orkney Labour are launching an online appeal for fairer fares for residents of the Isles.
We welcome the Council’s campaign for the Scottish Government to pay their fair share of the running cost and contribute to improving the fleet. We want Orkney and Shetland to be put in the same position as the Western Isles.
There is one practical step that the Council could make now that would make life much easier for us which should not cost too much. Orkney Labour have launched an online petition (non-party-political) to change how we can buy the subsidized islander discount tickets. At present, to get the full discount we need to buy 50 one-way ferry tickets which for many people who are struggling on a low income, is impossible. The result is that those who most need the lower rates cannot get them and must pay the full rate, while those who are wealthier can get the lower rate. We are therefore asking that residents of the North and Inner Isles be allowed to buy single tickets at the lower fare in the same way that we get reduced ferries and flights to the Scottish mainland.
My husband, Peter, has been very ill and a few years ago he was in hospital in Kirkwall or Aberdeen for the whole of one summer. Because he is suffering from dementia he needed my regular presence. I spent large parts of every day except Sunday (transport lacking) at the hospital caring for him, commuting by ferry. I agonized over the cost of ferries, not knowing how long the situation was going to last. I worried about finding the cost of the ferries. I bought the bulk tickets used them and so spent less than I could have, but the whole situation was financially difficult and stressful, at a time that was already difficult enough. A built-in islanders discount for the North and Inner Isles would have saved me a great deal of unnecessary anxiety. I have always found it difficult to understand why the fares are administered in the way they are, discriminating against those who are less well off, and thus most in need of a discount.
We are asking those who live in Orkney who support this request to sign this petition and lobby their councillors. You can write to your councillor at Orkney Islands Council, School Place, Kirkwall, KW15 1NY or via the internet here: https://www.writetothem.com/
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