Isles representatives condemn “eye-watering” Northlink ferry fare hike

19 Dec 2023

Northern Isles representatives Alistair Carmichael MP, Beatrice Wishart MSP and Liam McArthur MSP have today condemned revelations of an 8.7% hike in Northlink ferry fares at the end of March 2024.

The increase will be made in line with the May 2023 CPI rate of 8.7%, though the most recent CPI rate of October 2023 was only 4.6%. The Scottish Government has justified the increase on the basis of past investments and the introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) to reduce fares, but RET does not apply to the Northern Isles.

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael said:

“We have talked about “greedflation” a lot in the context of the cost-of-living crisis but you do not expect it to come from our own public officials. It is hard to see how such an eye-watering fare hike – far above current inflation levels – is reasonable. This is price gouging by the SNP-Green Government, plain and simple.

“I find it particularly galling that the Scottish government is justifying the increase on the basis that they supposedly reduced fares with the Road Equivalent Tariff – something they have stubbornly refused to deliver for the Northern Isles. The message should be simple – deliver RET now or drop this unfair price hike.”

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said:

“While hugely disappointing we should not be surprised at the SNP-Green Scottish Government asking islanders to pay this increase.

“Having frozen fares for four years, it was inevitable that when a price increase came it was going to be excessive.

“A hike of nine per cent from April is going to hugely impact Shetland residents and will be especially hard for people on fixed incomes.”

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:

“This is a significant cost increase coming during a time of squeezed household finances and embattled public services. Islanders rely on these routes to see family and friends, to travel for work, to attend medical appointments – the very definition of lifeline routes.

“The Scottish Government should be doing everything they can to ensure journeys remain affordable. Instead, it has signed off on major price hikes and snuck out the news in the hope no-one would notice. 

“Once again, this Scottish Government shows a clear disregard for the needs of islanders and our island communities.”

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