CalMac Ferries has been announced as the preferred tenderer for the next contract to operate the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network by the Scottish first minister.
CalMac’s bid makes almost 350 commitments to improve the service, aiming to help drive economic growth, improve customer service and make sure the company delivers value for money.
Proposals include a £6 million investment in vessel and port improvements, the introduction of smart and integrated ticketing systems on key routes and more opportunities for local employment, including more apprenticeships.
The plan also anticipates an increase passenger/vehicle traffic by ten per cent and commercial traffic by 12 per cent over the course of the contract.
The tender price for the next contract is around £900 million for eight years from the October 1st, 2016.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I’m very pleased to announce CalMac Ferries Ltd as our preferred bidder for the next Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contract.
“CalMac have a long and proud tradition of running the Clyde and Hebrides routes, and the company is woven into the fabric of the communities they serve.
“Their tender offers a good deal for those communities served by these vital transport links and ensures that we can maximise the opportunities to support and nurture our island economies.
“CalMac will better manage demand to drive an increase in traffic, as well as make the ferry services more attractive with the introduction of smart ticketing on key routes.
Also on the agenda under the deal, is the creation of a new director of community and stakeholder engagement post and a communities board to better involve communities in investment and services decisions.
CalMac Ferries has also committed to retaining its head office in Gourock and maintaining its status as a Living Wage employer, while confirming all existing routes and services will continue to operate as they do now.
“The Scottish Government has made a clear commitment to our ferry services, investing a record £1 billion in port infrastructure, vessels and services since 2007,” added Sturgeon.
“Scottish Ministers will retain control of all of important issues, such as fares and timetables, through the public service contract. Vessels and port infrastructure will also remain publicly owned as they are now.
“This new contract looks to make further improvements our ferry services, and I look forward to CalMac starting the new contract later this year.”