Flyer WORSE than Ali Cat in three days of ferries chaos
June 20, 2012
DUNOON’S terrible tubs ferry “service” cancelled a staggering EIGHTY-TWO sailings last weekend after the June weather knocked out BOTH of the lightweight boats.
Bosses at Argyll Ferries – the Caledonian MacBrayne offshoot responsible for the route – saw their timetable thrown into chaos over THREE DAYS between last Thursday and Saturday.
But astonishingly, the “not fit for purpose” Ali Cat outperformed her slightly bigger sister Argyll Flyer on our lifeline link – being called off on 30 occasions compared with the Flyer’s 52.
A company spokesman today insisted that the weather – which failed to disrupt the Western Ferries vehicle-carrying monopoly – was “very bad and not typical for June”.
CowalCourier.com can exclusively reveal that there were four cancelled sailings last Thursday between 9.40pm and 11.10pm, 40 call-offs on Saturday – with the Argyll Flyer out of commission ALL DAY – and a further 38 failures on Sunday, from early morning until 6.50pm.
But the Argyll Ferries spokesman maintained: “There were no technical cancellations. The Arran ferry was also off on Saturday as a result of the strong winds.”
Ferry campaigners – already furious at suggestions in a leaked Government report not to replace the Ali Cat as well as claims that an even lower standard of vessel on the route “would suffice” – today blasted the latest failure figures as “shocking”.
Widely respected transport expert Professor Neil Kay hit out: “It is not just the actual cancellations, it is the contempt with which Argyll Ferries (CalMac by another name) treats the communities and users on both sides of the Clyde.
“The blanket advice on their website when conditions are not good is that ‘Journeys may be/are affected’. What good is that to anyone? It’s like shrugging their shoulders and saying, ‘We don’t know, find out when you get there if you really want to bother’.”
Professor Kay added: “I came from a conference in Glasgow on Friday afternoon, the indicator boards at Central Station are all set up to warn of possible disruption to the Clyde rail-ferry links.
“There was no warning of possible disruption to Gourock-Dunoon. I phoned Dunoon on my way home and found there were contradictory notices on the indicator board – and also handwritten on the gates at Dunoon.
“I had to be told of the cancellations by a rail worker.
“You cannot plan to use the service for fixed commitment like commuting, college and hospital appointments, and if you cannot plan to use the service the service is to all intents and purposes unusable.”
Dunoon Community Councillor and a ferry campaigner for more than 30 years, Ronnie Smith, said: “These figures are shocking! Weather conditions were not particularly severe. Western had no cancellations.
“Arran is in different waters from Dunoon-Gourock and in any case cancellations there were only on Saturday – whereas our vessels were off for three days on the trot.”
Mr Smith added: “In two days, there were more cancellations than would have been expected with the streaker car ferry MV Saturn in an entire year.
“This represents a Public Transport crisis which would not be tolerated on any other route.
“The people of Dunoon are being treated as fifth class citizens in being provided with a service which the Government itself admits is not fit for purpose.
“I dread to think of the effects on Dunoon’s economy of this level of unreliability at the peak of the holiday season.”