Motorhomes, RVs and caravans should be banned from queues for CalMac crossings around Scotland.
State-owned ferry operator CalMac confirmed the decision was made following discussions with the Scottish government’s Transport Scotland agency and island stakeholder groups.
CalMac said the change is being introduced with “immediate effect to prioritize passengers who may need accommodation and to ensure that deck space and capacity are used more efficiently.”
The ferry operator said: “This is a permanent change – however, it will continue to be reviewed and comments will be welcome.”
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It comes after The Herald revealed a Scottish ferry travel lottery for local residents entering and leaving the islands, as it emerged that some roads had little to no space for cars for more than three weeks.
Islanders had requested additional crossings as the rescue ferry network struggles to cope with demand initially exacerbated by remaining Covid restrictions and outages of the aging ferry fleet.
Research by the Herald on July 21 found that the most affected service provided by CalMac was Mallaig on the west coast of the Highlands to Lochboisdale on South Uist, which typically operates one crossing per day. There was no availability to book a car online until August 13.
CalMac said residents of the island who travel with an RV, RV or caravan will be exempt from the decision and will continue to be allowed to use the queue, if they have proof. of residence.
Residence on the island will be confirmed at the reservation point or at the request point to join the queue and potential passengers will be asked to provide proof of address from a utility bill or similar.
The board of directors of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), the taxpayer-funded company that owns and purchases ferries, had agreed that all caravans and motorhomes in their remote ports would be banned from March 31.
But because at that time hotels, guest houses, caravans and campsites were closed, CMAL agreed to allow the practice of parking in ports to continue.
Queues are available on all bookable CalMac routes and give any passenger without a ticket the option of boarding if seats remain after all reserved passengers have been processed.
Finlay MacRae, CalMac Operations Manager, said: “To prioritize customers without alternative accommodation and to optimize deck space at the end of loading, RVs, RVs and towing vehicles caravans will no longer have a waiting position or waiting list on all bookable routes. – either at the reservation stage, or on the day of departure.
“Restricting larger vehicles to the waiting lanes will allow us to make the best use of the remaining space for smaller vehicles, whose occupants may not have other options available for accommodation. It will also eliminate the problem of larger vehicles filling the waiting lanes, and vehicles must be removed from the car lanes if that is all that can be shipped at the end of the loading process. ”