Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called on the Scottish Transport Minister, the head of Transport Scotland and the managing director of Serco Northlink to come to Shetland urgently to address the quality of the lifeline ferry service. Mr Carmichael wrote to the transport leaders following widely circulated images on social media of many passengers sleeping on the floors of the Lerwick-Aberdeen service last night (30th June) due to overcrowding.
There have been growing calls in the isles to address what has been seen as a growing problem of capacity, particularly in the summer months, with islanders further frustrated by restrictions on the sharing of cabins.
Mr Carmichael said:
“The pictures we have seen show an unacceptable level of service for the local community.
“This is not a new problem but it now goes well beyond what is acceptable. It is also entirely predictable. You don’t need to be Albert Einstein to know that when the schools break up for the summer holidays the boats will be busy.
“I have been told by those involved that there were pensioners and children on the floor around the vessel. That is simply wrong.
“I want the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister, Transport Scotland and Northlink senior management to get up here now, face the public and sort it out. It cannot be beyond the wit of man to anticipate spikes in demand like this and to make provision to deal with them.
“This is a lifeline service which receives large amounts of public money. We deserve better than this.”