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Evaluation of Road Equivalent Tariff on the Clyde and Hebridean Network

Evaluating a key Scottish Government policy which substantially reduced ferry fares for passengers and cars

  • Scottish islands, United Kingdom

    Scottish islands, United Kingdom

We undertook an evaluation of the impacts of the Road Equivalent Tariff ferry fares policy on behalf of Transport Scotland

The Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) was implemented in stages by the Scottish Government across the CalMac network between 2008 and 2015. This key policy sought to broadly equate the cost of ferry travel by car with the cost of travelling an equivalent distance by road. Passenger fares were also revised, so in most cases, fares were substantially reduced for cars and all passengers, increasing the subsidy required to operate the network.

We were appointed to undertake a wide-ranging evaluation of this policy in the context of its original objectives. The study involved a programme of on-ferry, household, and business surveys to capture how travel patterns and behaviours have changed as a result of RET.

This analysis was combined with a review of operator data to quantify the demand-side impacts of the policy. We also sought to determine the supply-side impacts of the policy on the islands and communities served (impacts on the business base, infrastructure, supply-chain changes, and so on).

Finally, drawing the material together, the study assessed how the RET policy has performed against its original objectives and contributed to Scottish Government’s transport and wider economic policies.  The findings will be used to inform future fares policy to the benefit of island communities and other ferry users.

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Scott Leitham, Director, Transport Planning

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Scott Leitham

Director, Transport Planning

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