AN additional 47,587 foot passengers used the Cumbrae-Largs ferry service last year - but more must be done to help the service meet commuters' needs.

West coast ferry operator CalMac has published its carrying figures for 2018 which show that the local route is one of the best performing in the fleet.

But a local MSP feels earlier and later sailings are needed to allow people to maximise opportunities on and off the island.

There were 793,206 passengers compared to 745,619 in 2017, marking a six per cent increase, while cars on board also showed an increase in usage.

There was an increase in 4,244 cars to 174,180.

The road equivalent tariff resulting in cheaper ferry fares was introduced three years ago and has resulted in increases year on year.

However, there has been more congestion as a result with regular ferry queues in Bath Street and Mackerston Place, sometimes stretching up as far as Charles Street on busy summer days.

Largs-based West of Scotland regional MSP Jamie Greene, shadow transport spokesman, is pushing for an earlier start to the ferry timetable on weekdays aid commuters.

He said: "Cumbrae is a lifeline service and with the introduction of the regular ferry service many years ago the self-sufficiency of the island has declined, and the requirement to travel for employment has increased significantly. Cumbrae is now, more than ever, a commuter route as well as a tourist route during the summer months, as is the Colintraive-Rhubodach route which has a continuous service from 5.30am through to 9pm during winter and summer and yet, carries just a third of the passengers carried on the Cumbrae route.

"For an island that is such a short distance from Glasgow, and well within commutable distance, it is unacceptable in this current climate that commuters are unable to be at work for a very reasonable start time of 8am."

The first train that island commuters can take gets them into Glasgow Central for 8.35am as it presently stands.

A change in the timetable is a matter for Transport Scotland and Calmac, in consultation with ferry user groups.