Covid-19 (Transport)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th May 2020.

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Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

On Jamie Greene’s latter point, we already have in place a contract variation with ferry operators that provide services to us, to recognise the financial consequences of the lockdown arrangements and to support the services to be sustainable, and we will continue to look at that.

Jamie Greene raises an important point about the need to strike a balance between opening up our island communities in a proportionate and appropriate way and not exposing them to undue risk. As I outlined earlier, as we go through the phases that are set out in the route map, our approach is to assess the potential impact on transport modes, including ferry services, and consider what arrangements we need to put in place to meet and manage any additional demand.

As I outlined, the reality is that, even when we move our ferry services back to a normal timetable, capacity will be very significantly constrained, particularly on our largest vessels, which will have in the region of 17 to 18 per cent of their normal capacity. No matter what happens, there will be significant constraints and we need to make sure that we manage them in a way that reflects the needs of island communities and the people who live in them.