Uncertain Future for Jura Passenger Ferry

There are ferry problems on Islay's neighbouring island, the Isle of Jura. Although Argyll and Bute Council has decided back in the spring of 2008 to financially support the Jura passenger ferry it now looks as if the financial future and with that the future of the ferry is very uncertain. What's the problem you might wonder. I personally think it's a chicken and egg situation. If the price is too high too few passengers use the ferry, lower the price and the revenue drops, in both cases the council has to pick up the bill. Last year the fares were raised with 17% in a time when people were anxious to spend money due to the economic crisis and as a direct result the passenger numbers dropped with a third. This drop in passenger numbers was blamed to the bad weather, soaring fuel prices and economic situation but I personally think the increase in the fare price is the most important reason.It's not known what the price for a return ticket will be next year but I can imagine that people will be even more reluctant to spend their money next year with the uncertain economic situation. The government is flat broke and budget cuts are putting the pressure on council budgets. Earlier this year I wrote about the same subject on the Jura Blog and a couple of days ago the Scotsman published an article titled 'Who will pay the jura ferryman'. This Jura ferryman however is from Islay and runs Islay Sea Safari. Continue reading....

The article in the Scotsman continues with mentioning that the new passenger ferry has carried 4,500 people since it was launched last year, providing an important economic boost to the Hebridean isle with a population of just 210. However, soaring fuel prices last year, the recession and poor weather this summer have left ferry passenger numbers one-third below target, sparking concerns the service will have to be cut back unless further cash can be found. The Jura Hotel said the fate of the ferry would have a major effect on business. Steve Walton, manager of the 17-bedroom hotel, said: 'It will have a big impact on a little place. We have had a lot of daytripper business from the ferry and people staying several nights at the hotel.' Grahame Pettit, co-owner of the Antlers bistro restaurant in Craighouse, said it had also benefited from ferry traffic since opening this year. He said: 'Any vehicle that can transport tourists will have an impact on local businesses and it would be sad to see the ferry go.' Other islanders said they were anxious to maintain the ferry link to improve travel connections.

Graeme Lindsay, who lives on Jura but works in Germany, claimed reliability problems with the Jura-Islay ferry had left him severely out of pocket. He said: 'It has cost me thousands over the years in lost flight connections and I have frequently written to the council who run it.' Dick Mayes, a former chairman of Initiative at the Edge, which established the 12-seat ferry, said it had got underway at the worst possible time. He said: 'If ever you wanted to launch a new passenger ferry service you would never have done it in 2008, when fuel prices went up, which really hurt, and meant the service cost more to run. 'People were also less inclined to travel by car so the number of potential visitors to Jura did not materialise. 'This year, things started to look better, but the recession has had quite an impact, with people thinking twice about paying £35 to pop across to Jura. We also had awful weather.' Mayes added 'We are trying to secure its longer-term future, but extra funding of £20,000-30,000 is required to guarantee a full service for next summer.' All this means that the future of the Jura passenger ferry is uncertain which is bad new for the people on Jura as well as for the daytrippers to the island.

Tag: jura ferry

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