SCHOOL pupils who live on neighbouring islands could be allowed to leave Largs Academy early to catch a ferry.

The option is being explored due to the difference between the school closure and ferry times - with children previously left waiting at the pierhead in inclement weather.

Aligning the times so children can make an earlier ferry has previously been mooted at island meetings and could now be actioned.

Cllr. Tom Marshall, who sits on the Isle of Cumbrae ferry forum, told the News: "It is one aspect which is being looked at. It means that the children would then immediately get on board the ferry rather than having to hang around the pierhead.

"The idea would be to try and align the ferry for when they leave school. "I was one of the councillors who helped to save the bus service between Largs Academy and the pier, so I'm keen to progress this.

"The matter will have to be discussed further."

There are sailings every 15 minutes throughout the summer months but more than a 30 minute wait when the winter timetable comes into force in October.

The school idea was discussed at a recent Cumbrae Community Council and ferry users group meeting.

Other issues raised included the ongoing problem of queuing at the ferry slip, queuing traffic at Largs having difficulty in purchasing a ticket and calls to introduce online ticketing.

Cllr Marshall believes it is time for an online ticketing operation.

He said: "The simple answer from my perspective is that Caledonian MacBrayne is a nationalised company and does not react to market forces.

"The lack of online ticketing has been a perennial problem.

"I believe the Scottish Government are going to fund a project to look at bringing it in next year and it something in this modern day and age is really necessary."

Cllr Marshall pointed out that a lot of issues including the long queues at both sides during busy days came about as a result of cheaper ferry fares introduced by RET (Road equivalent tariff) several years ago.