Following a successful partnership over the Summer months, customers on the Ullapool-Inverness
coach route should again benefit from extra capacity following the extension to an
agreement by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Citylink andthe Highlands and Islands
Regional Transport Partnership (HITRANS).
Coach operator, Scottish Citylink, which
operates the service, deployed 48 additional coaches over the summer to cater for
whenever bookings for the service exceeded the capacity more than 48 hours in advance
of the departure time.
As the coach operator runs the service on a commercial basis without any public sector
investment, it cannot guarantee that it can add in extra vehicles to the route with
less than 48 hours' notice unless the level of demand covered the operational costs.
All parties agreed that it was not commercially viable for the operator to ensure
that sufficient capacity could always be provided for anyone expecting to travel
without a booking but that they would work together with the aim to ensure that this
increased capacity service would be deployed wherever possible when passengers made
an advance booking.
Scottish Citylink indicated that there was often variable demand
on Sundays over the winter months with demand occasionally exceeding the main coach
As a result, the agreement between the Comhairle, HITRANS and Scottish Citylink has
now been extended to cover all Sundays up until the New Year.
This will ensure that, if additional capacity is required and can feasibly be deployed
at short notice, any operational losses incurred by Scottish Citylink would be underwritten
by these two parties.
Uisdean Robertson, chair of the comhairle’s transportation
Committee, said emphasised: “For operational reasons, this additional capacity cannot
in any way be completely guaranteed by the operator and there remains a very real
imperative that all passengers should make every effort to book as far in advance
as possible of when they intend to travel from either Inverness or Ullapool.”
Peter Knight, operations director at Scottish Citylink, said: “In trying to provide
the best possible service to all passengers on the Ullapool to Inverness route we
will continue to work with all parties to try and ensure that sufficient capacity
can be deployed in time, however I would again urge all of our customers to help
us achieve this by booking the service well in advance.”