Wishart slams Scottish Government delay for ferry bookings beyond March 2024

5 Dec 2023
NorthLink vessel at sea


Shetland’s MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat, Beatrice Wishart, has again slammed the Scottish Government for a lack of timely opening for the Serco NorthLink Ferry Lerwick-Aberdeen route. 

Wishart has once again asked a written question of the Scottish Government asking when the bookings will open beyond March 31st 2024.

Wishart last asked the written question on 31st October 2023 to which the Scottish Government response was that it was aiming to confirm fares ‘in the coming weeks’.

Earlier this year Ms Wishart ran an online survey about the bookings on Serco NorthLink Ferries and the needs of islanders on the lifeline service. Within 24 hours the survey had received over 200 responses and, in less than two weeks, more than 1000 people had completed the survey, and the need to be able to book well ahead was a recurring issue.

Ms Wishart said:

“As we approach Christmas families will be getting together and making plans for later next year. But this will be scuppered by the Scottish Government’s delay in opening the booking system which currently doesn’t go beyond the end of the Easter holidays.

“The Scottish Government previously opened the booking system for six months but that time is rapidly counting down. Islanders are once again restricted in how far ahead they can make plans to travel.

“A rolling system of bookings is needed to stop these ‘cliff edges’. Passengers can currently book to leave the islands at the start of school holidays and the Easter weekend but not to return once it ends.

“Islanders need flexibility on their lifeline service to travel out of Shetland and this was evident in responses to my survey earlier in the year.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Ms Wishart’s written question in October can be found here.

Ms Wishart’s most recent written question states:

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S6W-22555 given by Fiona Hyslop on 10th November 2023, when the Serco NorthLink Ferries booking system will open for bookings for dates beyond 31 March 2024.