THE current challenges of Covid and bad weather, combined with disruptions due to dry-docking, ought to show the advantages of overarching management for west coast ferry services, yet unfortunately have shown instead poor and inadequate contingency planning by Calmac.

Islay is a particularly busy route, especially for freight services, but this week had a single boat service from the oldest of the larger vessels, the 37-year-old Isle of Arran, with one day of assistance from the Isle of Mull. It also highlights the inadequate infrastructure on Islay, where the piers – redeveloped within the past 15 years – are unable to accommodate the Clansman (almost 24 years old) which has instead been sailing (amongst other destinations) to Colonsay (pier re-developed in the 1980s) and Coll. Both of these latter islands have populations of under 200.

The mainland ferry terminal at Kennacraig has no catering facilities, so the removal of access to on-board catering for a sea journey of two hours is a further problem – especially with an amended timetable which has lost most public transport connections.

Jean Knowles

Laphroaig, Islay