Concerns over the removal of monthly tickets on the Cumbrae ferry - and the negative impact it is causing residents - have been raised in the Scottish Parliament.

Fears were expressed earlier this year, when the season tickets were removed, that islanders could see fares jump by 70 per cent - with a potentially significant impact on the Cumbrae economy.

West of Scotland Conservative MSP Jamie Greene asked transport minister Fiona Hyslop what consideration has given to any benefits to islanders of restoring the monthly season ticket on the Largs to Cumbrae ferry route. 

Ms Hyslop responded: "There has been no specific assessment of the benefit of the reintroduction of the monthly season ticket, but I note the calls for that to be considered.

"Officials have already had some initial discussions with CalMac on the options. Issues around the practicality and potential costs would need to be considered carefully.

"The discussions are ongoing. Wider consultation on fares across the network will take place through the development of the fair fares review."

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Jamie Greene MSPJamie Greene MSP (Image: Jamie Greene)

Mr Greene responded: "The new ticketing system is supposed to make life better for islanders, not worse. I have been lobbying Transport Scotland, CalMac and numerous transport ministers for a year and a half for a decision on this.

"I do not understand what further consultation could possibly need to take place. All that the islanders want is a reliable ferry service at prices they can afford.

"It is not beyond the wit of man to design a system that will work for our island communities.

"When will we get an answer on whether or when these services will resume and the much-needed ticketing system will be available to our island communities?"

Ms Hyslop replied: "The decision to withdraw the season ticket was not part of the new ticketing process; it was to do with the introduction of road equivalent tariff, which happened 12 years ago.

"For several years, there have been no annual adjustments to the monthly ticket in line with inflation, and users of the product have benefited from fares that, previously, were below the road equivalent tariff for the route, with a 17.5 per cent discount.

"I have asked officials to work with CalMac to see what is possible.

"However, as I said in reply to Jamie Greene’s first question, we have to ensure that fares are fair across the network."