FIFTEEN thousand more cars are using the CalMac ferry from Largs compared to two years ago, new statistics have revealed.

The massive boost in the number of vehicles crossing to Millport has had the negative spin-off of creating traffic chaos at Largs Pier.

It has caused parking problems in Largs and town centre residents have launched a petition to have double and single yellow lines removed from their streets and parking permits introduced.

Meanwhile a traffic study by the council, funded by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport is currently taking place on the Isle of Cumbrae to address concerns highlighted by both CalMac and Police Scotland regarding the current queueing arrangements for vehicles and pedestrians on the island.

In 2015, the total number of cars using the ferry to Cumbrae was 69,000, but in 2016 following the introduction of cheaper ferry fares, that figure went up to 80,000.

It increased again in 2017 to 84,698.

Cumbrae Ferry Users' Group chief Bill Steele believes CalMac, North Ayrshire Council and Scottish Government must urgently tackle the traffic issue which RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) fares have brought.

He said: "We warned about the traffic chaos problems since before the RET was introduced and now it is real.

"We always said that the biggest problem would be around the ferry terminal, but nobody would listen.

"The government, local authority and CalMac need to come together on this and resolve the problem.

"There have been all sorts of suggestions including one way systems, and but they really need to sit down and find the best way of managing this."

Mr Steele believes that one solution could possibly be removing the Viking ship at the Pierhead and making Fort Street multi-lane for ferry traffic.

He said: "Taking away the Viking ship in the middle of the road would help free up the traffic by providing an extra lane or two in Fort Street for the ferry, and it would relieve the pressure on the surrounding area.

"Another issue is the ferry ticketing.

"Cal Mac cannot take their ticket machines out on to the road where the queuing is, and if they could find someway to improve this through online ticketing, this would have another positive benefit, and help things run smoother."

Independent councillor Ian Murdoch says he would be against taking the Viking ship away.

He told the News: "The Viking ship defines the area - I don't think you would get an additional lane in, as you would lose parking spaces at the houses.

"I feel that now that the ferry queue has been properly extended, and is defined as a ferry queue with white lines, if you are an observant driver it has been most helpful."