Back in 2010 efforts began in earnest to campaign for an Oban-Craignure ferry service that was more focused on the needs of island residents, by basing the ferry in Craignure rather than Oban.
Without adding to the number of sailings, this would result in earlier departures and later returns, giving a longer usable day on the mainland.
However, the obstacle to this island-focused service is the pier – CalMac do not consider it a suitable berth for the MV Isle of Mull on any more than two nights per week (it currently lays over on Friday and Saturday nights).
Improvements to the Council-owned pier are still being studied, and there is little likelihood of upgrades that would enable more regular over-night berthing in the very near term. In the absence of a pier upgrade, the next-best option is to berth the ferry in Oban most nights, but have additional sailings at the beginning and the end of the day to offer those extra early and late departures.
A timetable that would enable this was devised in 2016, and was publicised around Mull & Iona. It was overwhelmingly endorsed, and since then we have been trying to get it implemented.
In order to run the extra sailings, CalMac would both have increased fuel costs and additional crew to pay for. These extra costs would have to be paid by Scottish Government – and our job has therefore been to lobby government to provide the funds. Six daytime crossings would also be lost however, in order to limit the expense of the additional fourteen sailings needed. The deleted sailings were chosen carefully and in close consultation with Iona residents (whose travel options are much more restricted than those on Mull), so that the best selection of options remain for residents from both islands.
We are now closer to getting the funding approved for this new timetable than ever before. A decision will be made over the course of this winter, and we are working hard to secure government support. The outcome is far from certain – budget processes have been interrupted by the general election, and it is still not clear that our request will make it through to final approval.
We want to be sure that the island-focused timetable still retains the backing of islanders, and demonstrate to government the support that it has. Below therefore is the timetable in full, and a couple of survey questions for you to answer.
The survey will close on Saturday December 7th. Thank you!Create your own user feedback survey
Here’s the timetable again if you’ve completed the survey and can no longer see it: