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Background Info

The petition follows on from the announcement by the Scottish Government that they were going to implement substantial fare increases for commercial transport to and from the Western Isles from the end of March 2012. (detailed below)

Proposed increases due to be implemented 30th March 2012 (based on a 17m lorry)

Route                                    %         cost now     proposed cost  difference
Stornoway/Ullapool               134%   £ 458.30    £ 1073.04        £ 614.74
Oban/Coll/Tiree                      94%   £ 519.50    £ 1008.57         £ 489.07
Uig/Lochmaddy/Tarbert        172%   £ 278.78    £ 758.88           £ 480.10
Oban/Lochboisdale/Castlebay 80%   £ 748.80    £ 1348.03         £ 599.23

The Scottish Government’s announcement is heavily based on their suggestion that hauliers did not pass any savings from RET back to the customer – an allegation which hauliers have continuously refuted AND have provided evidence to the Scottish Government and MSPs.

A later announcement was made by the Scottish Government detailing an extra £2.5m for transitional relief which would cap the increases to 50% in any one year. 

From the end of March 2012 the fares will rise from:

Stornoway – Ullapool                                 From: £458.30         To: £687.45
Uig – Lochmaddy/Tarbert                           From: £278.78         To: £418.17
Oban – Lochboisdale/Castlebay                  From: £748.80         To: £1123.20
Oban – Coll/Tiree                                       From: £519.50         To: £779.25

The 50% increase is still a very substantial rise in fares and is only for one year. 

After the first year the fares will continue to rise and in year 3 the overall increase will be the same as first proposed in the table above.

http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/files/documents/water/RET_-_Paper_Transitional_approach_-_Updated_-_13_February_2012.pdf

The Scottish Government should carry out a socio-economic analysis before any increases are implemented to ascertain the impact that any increases will have on an already fragile community.

Small businesses and commercial vehicles are the crux of the economy of these islands and the impact on these businesses will be substantial – as outlined in the above tables.  The increases in prices will have to be passed on and paid for by the whole community.  Every man, woman and child will be affected by this policy.  The communities are fragile and disadvantaged in many ways and this decision will only make the situation far worse.

RET over the past few years has benefitted the islands in many ways.  It has allowed small businesses to be competitive locally, nationally and internationally and if the proposed increases were to go ahead many of these businesses will cease to trade or it will leave them unable to  compete with their mainland counterparts.

Job losses are inevitable if this policy goes ahead as businesses will have to downsize or cease to trade completely.

Although RET is remaining in place for other vehicles, the cost of living on a day to day basis will rise significantly which will remove the choice from islanders to be able to take advantage of the reduced fares for social travel.

Further information can be provided by contacting the Outer Hebrides Transport Group by emailing them at:
outerhebridestransportgroup@aol.co.uk

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