Mull catamaran would ‘cut ferry rush hour’ in Oban

The Isle of Mull takes 50 to 60 cars at a time, which means quite a lot of people heading to the pier at the same time for its sailings.

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Campaigners hoping to win a Catamaran service for Oban to Mull say it could help cut traffic congestion in Oban town centre during rush hour.

The issue has come to the fore with Scottish Government weighing up a move for a larger ferry carrying 125 cars, which critics say would ‘overload’ Oban with vehicles at peak times.

The Mull and Iona Ferry Committee are trying to convince Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government to purchase a ‘cheaper to buy, cheaper to run’ smaller catamaran.

The committee says this would run more frequent services with a longer timetable, and be less likely to be cancelled due to poor weather.

Acting as a second vessel, it would carry less vehicles but run more services between Oban and Craignure, members say.

Oban Community Council has been told that a catamaran would reduce traffic levels in the centre of Oban – particularly when passengers descend on the town for the last ferry of the day in winter.

William McClymont, a member of the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee, said: ‘At the moment, in the winter for three days a week, the last ferry to Mull is five minutes to four – this is 2021 not 1921.

‘In Oban, when you are making for Mull and heading for the four o’clock ferry, you have got to be in the queue for 3.30pm.

‘Everybody is trying to get through the town at the same time. People of Oban have got their own lives at that time too, so you’ve got that and all the ferry traffic heading for the pier at the one time.

‘The Isle of Mull takes 50 to 60 cars at a time and it’s quite a lot of people heading in that direction at that time. You imagine 125 people trying to make their way to the pier at the same time every two hours. We think that’s quite difficult for Oban to bear.’

He said a smaller vessel running at a higher frequency would be better at ‘drip-feeding’ cars through Oban rather than a significant volume all converging on the town at once.

‘What we would like is a smaller vessel running for a much higher frequency for a much longer time,’ he said.