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Cheaper ferry fares make island travel more affordable

Ferry routes that do not currently operate Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) fares will see them introduced by October cutting ticket prices by more than £40 for some journeys.

From this date all ferries across operator CalMac's network will have RET applied to their fares. The RET initiative aims to match ferry fares with those of road users for the equivalent distance travelled. The announcement was made by Transport Minister, Derek Mackay and will bring average fares down on affected routes by 44% for passengers and 65% for vehicles.

In real terms this will mean foot passengers on the Wemyss Bay-Rothesay route paying £3.05 instead of £5.15 and vehicle passengers crossing from Oban to Mull paying £16.45 rather than £56.65. Taking a car from Mallaig to Armadale on Skye falls from £29.05 to just £12.20.

CalMac operates 31 vessels across 49 routes serving communities up and down the west coast and is the UK's largest ferry operator. 

"These new fares will not only improve margins for local people looking to get goods and services to mainland markets, but it will also potentially provide a major boost for the local economy by making them a more attractive option as a visitor destination. said CalMac's Commercial Director, Cathy Craig.

"Travel costs are a significant part of any journey to the areas we serve and bringing these down can only be good news for the communities that we not only serve but are very much part of."

When RET was introduced on the Ardrossan-Arran route in 2014 vehicle numbers rose by 46% over the same period in the previous year.

"We are conscious that increasing passenger numbers may have an impact on capacity. But we are committed to working with our local communities to manage any change in demand effectively to maximise the economic opportunities more visitors will bring," added Cathy.

In cases where RET fares would be more expensive than multi-journey discount tickets, the fares will be capped at the lower level.

The roll out of RET fares across the CalMac fulfils a key commitment of the 2012 Ferries Plan.

Passengers can compare how much they will save when the new fare come on stream in the table below.



RET passenger fare

RET car fare


Wemyss Bay / Rothesay



Colintraive / Rhubodach




Oban / Craignure



Lochaline / Fishnish



Fionnphort / Iona



Tobermory / Kilchoan



Small Isles

Mallaig / Eigg



Mallaig / Muck



Mallaig / Rum



Mallaig / Canna



Sound of Barra

Castlebay / Lochboisdale



Barra / Eriskay



Sound of Harris

Berneray / Leverburgh



Tarbert Harris / Lochmaddy




Mallaig / Armadale




Sconser / Raasay




Largs / Cumbrae




Oban / Lismore




Tarbert / Portavadie





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