Across two tendering processes the Foula boat cost was reduced by something close to half its former cost.
As far as I'm aware, nobody working on the actual boat lost their job over it, nobody working on the boat suffered a pay cut (TUPE?), there was no reduction in service provision, there was no reduction in service reliability. In fact all I can recall hearing since it went over to private contract has been praise, which is the opposite of all you ever heard when the SIC ran it themselves.
If I'm wrong on any of this, somebody tell be and I'll shutup and sausage off.
I'm not naive enough to believe a similar cost reduction could be achieved on all ferry routes, but surely its not unreasonable, taking in to consideration the outcome of the Foula "trial" that some level of saving could be achievable on most of them. Savings that would be better spent going towards terminal/boat upgrades, replacements, tunnels or whtever it was decided was the best option(s) for the future. It would cost not a lot to at least go through with a tendering process, just to prove what might (or not) be achievable, but its a hot brick nobody where it matters seems to want to comment on let alone touch.
Going cap in hand to niggardly scots(wo)men begging for more is not going to solve much - worth doing, and keeping on doing, yes, but can only ever be expected to return meagre results, if any. Letting the same scots(wo)men in to run within Shetland ferries is something I would vehemently oppose - In true "(s)he who pays the piper, calls the tune" fashion, the ferries would run when they thought they should run, where they thought they shoud run, would be the boats they decided were 'best' for the job and the fares would be whatever they decided they were going to be, and regardless how wrong any of that was folk would just have to put up with it, as sure as hell, any protests or attempts to negotiate improvement would be met with exactly the same as they are for other things right now, a few flowery platitudes, and continue as is.
Yes, by all means screw every last penny out of Holyrood possible for the boats, but accept that at best it'll be chicken feed that really makes no great noticable difference to financing them. Pretty much what is in the kitty right now is what is to work with, within a few percentage points either way fluctuations, and try and stretch that money as far as possible to be able to move forward little by little.
If running a small half decked boat back and forth to Foula fewer times in a week than the bigger boats make runs before breakfast each day can return a saving amountng to several hundred thousands in a year, just how big a pot of cash is being swilled away elsewhere every day when it needn't be, and could be being put to so much better use?
Whether ferries or tunnels are the 'best value' is really a relatively simple equation if only considered in financial terms. Once boats reach a certain age their ongoing costs start to climb as expensive refurbs, upgrades, replacement of worn/corroded parts etc become necessary to keep them operational and seaworthy. At 25 a working boat is getting old, at 50 its very old. Ideally replacement ferries probably should be pencilled in for every 25-35 years, so basically three per century minimum. So, price of new boat x 3, plus expected maintenance, repair and running costs of a boat for a 35 year period x 3, plus the same costings for the necessary terminals for 100 years vs. price of tunnel, plus repair and maintenance of that tunnel for 100 years. It a reatively simple equation, for which there should be a quite definitive and robust answer, and should be easily calculated by anyone with access to adequate data.
As others have already said, its a whole lot more complicated than that. The isles served by ferries are a product of the ferry system, they're very different places now than they were when access was by regular runs of the Earl/Brenda etc, and no doubt life then was markedly different than it had been before regular transport links were established when the reliance was on ad hoc privately owned boats taking out and bringing in what they felt like when they felt like it. Tunnels unavoidably would create yet different communities, the isles have changed and evolved before (apparently, for the majority at least, quite happily) as each 'upgrade' in transport has come their way, its only the residents of the isles affected though who can say whether another change, and the nature of that change, is likely to improve or destroy them.
Edited by Ghostrider, 21 November 2017 - 04:24 AM.