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An Argyll and Bute councillor has called for a RET discount for locals and travellers on the Jura and Luing ferries, in line with other West Coast islands which have seen boosted visitor numbers.
CalMac introduced the RET, standing for ‘road equivalent tariff’, to all its ferry tickets in October 2015 to make island travel cheaper and more affordable, cutting prices by more than £40 on some journeys.
The RET bases ferry fares on the cost of travelling the equivalent distance by road. CalMac explains: ‘The RET formula for calculating fares is a combination of a fixed element (to cover fixed costs) and a rate per mile.’
Now Kintyre and the Islands councillor Robin Currie has called for Argyll and Bute Council to consider introducing the RET to its two-vehicle ferry services to Jura and Luing. He said: ‘Jura and Luing are the only two islands that the council has vehicle ferries for, and they are the only two islands that do not have RET.
‘All the islands have benefited by the increase in traffic. When you look at Mull, it has been a drastic change: there is a big, big saving. It would make a huge difference to people on Jura. It’s a really busy ferry. If the fares were cheaper, there would be more people using it, and more income. It would be good for the island.
‘A discount scheme for locals would be a reasonable request. It seems to me there will not be an increase to the council, but that is what the officers will look at. We do not want to bring in RET if it will be more expensive.’
Argyll and Bute Council responded: ‘The RET is a Scottish Government initiative which reduces the cost of ferry travel for some people on major routes. The RET formula, we understand, does not ensure discounts on shorter crossings, so if we were to apply it to our short-journey ferries, it would not necessarily make the journey any cheaper.
‘In fact, with the multi-journey tickets we provide, people can secure large discounts by buying books of tickets. For example, the 50 ticket booklet for car and driver on the Jura ferry gives a saving of over 40 per cent.’