Ticketing system, T&Cs and other news…

With Clansman, Caledonian Isles and Hebridean Isles all remaining out of service with major breakdowns there is no let-up in the desperate state of CalMac ferry services. Here’s a round-up of current issues affecting our services.

MV Isle of Mull

The Isle of Mull is currently operating services to Lochboisdale, through until April 16th. At that point the Loch Frisa will head to dry-dock. Whilst the Frisa is away having her delayed service, we will have the IOM / Coruisk pairing. Loch Frisa is then due to return on May 15th, at which point the Coruisk will be released to work the Mallaig – Armadale route.

MV Alfred

The Alfred is still due to begin her 9 month, £9 million charter with CalMac from April 18th, but she will not be coming to Mull because she does not fit the Craignure linkspan. It’s thought she will primarily be of help to Arran and Islay.

New ticketing system

CalMac’s new ‘eBooking’ ticketing system will go live on April 25th. It promises lots of improvements – including the long-awaited ability to purchase concession tickets online. You can read the company’s information pages on the new system here.

Ticketing terms and conditions

Although last year’s plans to impose punitive cancellation fees were reversed, there are two significant changes planned with the introduction of eBooking:

  • If you buy a return ticket but fail to use the outward portion (say, for example you decide to travel via Lochaline instead of Oban at the last minute), your return ticket will be automatically invalidated. When you arrive in Oban to check-in for your return journey, you will find that not only have you lost your vehicle booking, but you will be asked to buy a new ticket.
    • CalMac are now re-considering this proposal and have issued a consultation on its removal.
      For now however it remains in place, so if you do make a late decision to change your outward journey be sure to amend your ticket before check-in closes.
  • If you arrive late for car check-in, rather than just having to join the back of the un-booked queue, you will also be asked to buy a new ticket.
    • This is unfair, punitive, counter-productive, encourages dangerous driving and may well cause disputes on the quayside. We have continued to protest, but as yet the company still intend to implement it. We will continue to challenge the proposal, which we believe breaks CalMac’s own conditions of carriage. In the meantime, we can only advise you to do your best not to be late.

New Transport Minister

Following the election of Humza Yousaf as Scotland’s new First Minister, we have a new Transport Minister – the seventh in ten years.

Kevin Stewart MSP certainly has a busy inbox.

We were due to meet his predecessor Jenny Gilruth just last week, but the meeting was postponed due to the re-shuffle. We’re hoping to be able to pick up that appointment soon.

Geordie takes the helm

Geordie Tilley has taken over from the retiring Iain Erskine as CalMac’s Port Manager for Mull. We’d like to congratulate Geordie on his new appointment, and wish Iain all the best in his retirement. Both men are CalMac stalwarts and like all their colleagues ashore and aboard, they do their best for us all in often trying circumstances.

Our job focusses on keeping CalMac, Transport Scotland, Government and CMAL accountable for the ferry service they deliver – but that is always about management and policy decisions mostly taken far away from Mull and Iona. In such unprecedented bad times for our public ferry service, CalMac staff are at the sharp end. Thanks all of you.

Medical Appointment Protocol – a reminder

With continuing lack of capacity on the Craignure-Oban service, don’t forget about the Urgent Medical Appointment Protocol if you have a mainland medical appointment. Ring CalMac if you can’t get a booking for your car – they will either make sure you can get your car on, or pay for a taxi for the entire mainland portion of your journey. Due to recent lobbying by us, this service has been improved to also cover hospital discharges. See details here.

A piece worth listening to.

The ferry crisis featured again on Good Morning Scotland at the weekend, with both some heartfelt views from the Western Isles and pointed identification of the causes by Prof Alf Baird. Well worth a listen.

Can you help to fund our work?

We have to hold our begging bowl to the community, to help fund our unavoidable costs such as meeting room hire, minute taking and web hosting. All donations – no matter how small – are valued. We’d like to thank the many people who have donated already and taken us two thirds of the way to our target. Follow this link to make a donation.

4 thoughts on “Ticketing system, T&Cs and other news…

  1. During the course of making a phone booking yesterday I asked about the urgent medical protocol, the lass had never heard of such and put me on hold while she asked a superior, he had never heard of this either.
    This does not bode well but entirely lives down to my expectations of the CalMac experience..

  2. Margaret Leplar 5th April 2023 — 8:10 pm

    Although I don’t live on the Island any more ( but still visit when i can) I still have relatives that do. I would like to thank you for all you do to try to get a decent service for everyone. I’m horrified about the return ticket fiasco…the first option Calmac give you if the Oban Ferry isn’t running is to travel via Loch Aline….

  3. Just back from a few days in Oban, stayed in an apartment in Lismore house which overlooks the train station and the ferry port, so had a good view of the absolute disaster of ferry passengers trying to catch trains back to Glasgow. 18:11 train seemed to be the worst, Coruisk gaily sailing in leaving the transfers 8 minutes to get off the boat and round to the station. In 5 days there was only 1 occasion when all the transfers made it to the train. Families and girls pulling cases had no chance of making it. Turn around times for Coruisk and Loch Frisa ranged from 20 to 48 mins, not so different to a 1 ended catamaran !!

    1. Isn’t it sad that a train run by a department of the Scottish Government will not wait for passengers to make their way from a delayed ferry run by a different department of the same Scottish Government.

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