Pensioner challenges CalMac over free ticket EU rules

Pensioner Peter White's Freedom of Information request revealed five dog attacks on Calmac staff and passengers.

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Huge numbers of companions travelling with disabled or elderly CalMac passengers could be missing out on free tickets, it has been claimed.

Pensioner Peter White said he only uncovered the EU legislation after spotting a random passenger information notice onboard a ferry which only made a vague reference to regulation (EU) No. 1177/2010.

‘It didn’t say much about it, so I decided to go and ask the information desk but they didn’t know either,’ said Mr White who later found out the regulation about the rights of passengers when travelling by sea mentions operators should set out clearly the circumstances in which a disabled passenger may need to be accompanied by a companion and ‘in relation to ferry services, the arrangements for obtaining a ticket for such a companion free of charge’.

Mr White, who lives in Sunderland but has travelled on CalMac ferries for 30 years exploring the islands on holidays, said: ‘I think they’ve been hiding this from people. The only mention of people with disabilities getting any money off journeys is a flyer about Blue Badge holders getting 25 per cent discount on car bookings – and that’s it. There seems to one million other leaflets about everything else, except about these free tickets.’

The 63-year-old is writing to CalMac bosses to complain and ask them to ‘open up’ about the EU legislation.

He said it was on a trip from Berneray to Leverburgh when he saw the notice.

‘It didn’t go into details but it intrigued me. When I got off I asked more about it at their Tarbert office and they printed it all off for me. There were nine sections with ten pages in each. When I read it, it was pure magic.

‘I see people travelling with disabilities and I go up to them now in the lounge and mention it to them. Their eyes light up. I think it’s time CalMac printed a leaflet about it and put it in plain English.’

A CalMac spokesman said an Assisted Travel Guide was now being finalised to cover such guidance but the free tickets, referred to by Mr White, would only be offered in cases were CalMac were of the view that their own asssistance team was unable to give the level of care needed during the journey.

The spokesman added: ‘In this instance we would advise that a carer could accompany them free of charge. This decision is for the company to make and is made on a case by case basis determined on whether or not we would be able to accommodate a solo disabled traveller safely.’