Analyzing options for setting ferry freight rates and fares across Scotland
Fares for commercial vehicles carried on Scotland’s lifeline ferry services are set by operators or through contracts tendered by Scottish Government. The range of fares, discounts, and surcharges has developed over time and are not consistent. We were appointed to review of these fares and assess the impact of adopting a range of more consistent regimes across the country.
The goal? To deliver a new fare structure that is simple, transparent and does not advantage one part of the network over any other part—it also needs to balance the wellbeing of communities against the public sector cost. We reviewed current practice in Scotland and internationally to learn lessons from elsewhere. Transport Scotland then set a range of appraisal criteria as follows: acceptability, affordability, consistency, sustainability, and transparency and simplicity. Several options were developed based on fixed and distance-based fare elements, and for each island the implied current and future fare was derived.
We consulted operators, stakeholders and industry bodies and a shortlist of options emerged. The findings fed into an ongoing review being undertaken by Scottish Ministers and a final decision on the future arrangement for freight fares.
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