Scottish ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) has reported that its annual passenger carrying figures exceeded five million for first time in 20 years.
During 2016, the company handled a total of 5,055,827 passengers and 1,356,396 cars, which increased by 9.2 percent and 15.9 percent year-on-year, respectively.
“Many routes saw very significant rises in both passenger and car numbers in the first full year after the roll-out of road equivalent tariff (RET) across all areas,” CalMac said.
The company added that the busiest route overall in the network continues to be Ardrossan in North Ayrshire to Brodick on the Isle of Arran, carrying 828,262 people and 202,843 cars in 2016, a rise of 8.7 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively.
The highest increase on a 2015-2016 like-for-like route was a substantial 74 percent rise in cars on the Tobermory to Kilchoan crossing and 52.2 and 52.3 percent on both the Oban to Lismore and the Mallaig to the Small Isles runs, respectively.
A larger vessel will operate the Tobermory-Kilchoan crossing this summer to help cater for the growth in numbers, thereby increasing capacity.
In terms of largest percentage increases in passengers, Tarbert on Loch Fyne to Portavadie recorded 35.5 percent, with 29.6 percent and 21.8 percent on Tobermory to Kilchoan and Oban to Lismore, respectively.
“These figures underline the success of the full roll out of Road Equivalent Tariff on the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network, a key commitment from the Scottish Government,” Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, said.
The company operates the UK’s largest ferry network, with 32 vessels carrying out more than 136,000 individual sailings annually across an area which extends some 200 miles from Campbeltown on Kintyre and the Isle of Arran in the south, to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the north.