A passenger attempted to travel to Dunoon by the ailing CalMac service this week, only to find that the remaining vessel – MV Ali Cat – had run dry of fuel on Monday morning.
“I arrived in time for the 11.20am sailing to be informed by a CalMac terminal staff member that the ferry was off because they needed to refuel it.
“When they are running a reduced service of one ferry per hour, you would have thought that they would have refuelled it at the end of service on Sunday night.”
The passenger was then told by CalMac staff that a replacement bus service was running.
“I then boarded a McColl’s bus with several other ferry passengers. I asked the driver if he was going into Dunoon and was told that he was only going to drop us off at the Western ferry terminal.
He didn’t know how passengers were to get to Dunoon town centre.”
The replacement bus then developed a fault, but this was eventually fixed and the bus was able to set off.
“We then boarded the Western ferry and were charged for their service, being advised to claim it back from CalMac.
“On arrival at Hunter’s Quay the Western Ferry car park staff were unaware of any bus service being laid on.
“We congregated at the pick up point and waited. After ten minutes I called the CalMac number and waited in the queue only for an operator to hang up on me as soon as I got through.
“I then called West Coast Motors Dunoon office who were unaware that we were waiting for a bus. It appears that CalMac had not organised one…”
The passenger decided to walk into town but had to tell some of the less able passengers that they had to organise passage to town themselves.
“I’m disappointed and embarrassed that this is the level of service that is being provided to commuters and visitors. I don’t believe that CalMac could possibly be more proactive in trying to deliberately sabotage this service.
“It’s apparent that they don’t care about their passengers. Basically, they arranged a “replacement” bus service and once the passengers were clear of the terminal they were no longer their problem.”
We put all of this to CalMac earlier in the week and received the following in reply.
CalMac’s Area Operations Manager for the Clyde, Tommy Gore, said: “We apologise for what has obviously been a miscommunication leading to poor service for customers.
“The replacement bus service isn’t to allow the vessel to be fuelled, it is for maintenance work to be carried out on board. This is because the scheduled maintenance breaks which are currently in the timetable are not available as a result of operating a single vessel timetable.
“We have spoken to the staff member involved with arranging buses on the day and they have confirmed that buses were organised, so we do not understand why that did not happen.
“We are contacting the operator to discuss with them and put in place steps to ensure this does not happen again.”