Back in January I wrote that the Jura Passenger Ferry service between Tayvallich and Craighouse Jura, on a trial basis for three years, was rewarded a gold medal at the annual Argyll & Bute Excellence Awards in the ‘Vibrant Communities’ category. When the ferry started its services around easter time everything seemed to be fine but a couple of months later, in June, I received an email from someone at Argyll and Bute council telling me the passenger numbers were down and they were looking for ways to bring it to the attention of the people. I decided to write a promotional article on my Islay Blog.
The article wasn’t just positive but it contained a lot of scepticism too. Why, you might wonder? Let me quote a paragraph: “The passenger ferry, which runs from Craighouse to Tayvallich, is strangely enough not getting enough passengers at the moment. This has something to do with the fact that a lot of people aren’t aware that there is a ferry serving Jura from the mainland Scotland. And perhaps it has something to do with the fares as well, after all a return trip for an adult is £35 which is almost twice the price for a return ticket on the Kennacraig to Islay ferry, which is £17.60.” Now I’m not in a position to say I told you so but in my humble opinion these fares are way too high and they are most likely the cause for people to NOT take the ferry to Jura and go somewhere else instead. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Oban Times has an article about the ferry service in which they mention that the ferry service is under threat. A quote from the Oban Times article:
A Lack of passengers is threatening the award-winning passenger ferry service between Jura and Tayvallich. Argyll and Bute Council agreed to subsidise a three-year pilot scheme but the subsidy alone may not be enough to keep the service going, as it comes to the end of its second season. And ferry operator Jura Development Trust is already trying to find an alternative means of funding, should council funding cease when the pilot scheme ends. Dick Mayes, former chairman of Initiative at the Edge, the group that established the ferry service, says the future of the service is uncertain.
He added: ‘The number of passengers using the ferry is not as high as we expected it to be, so the amount of money coming in is not enough to run a service six days per week, from Easter to the end of September. ‘After next year we really don’t know where the money is going to come from so we will need to assess that with the council and other organisations.’
Maybe they should try to get funding directly from the government and get them to cover for the losses, that’s what the government is doing already for many years with Calmac so why not do the same with this very much needed ferry service.