CALEDONIAN MacBrayne is set to introduce an alternative ticket option for Cumbrae residents hit in the pocket by the ferry operator's decision to scrap season tickets.

The commitment from Scotland's transport minister, Fiona Hyslop, comes after an MSP for the West Scotland region called on CalMac to engage better with the island's ferry users.

Island residents reacted with fury after CalMac scrapped season tickets on the route last year as part of the introduction of a fare structure based on road equivalent tariff (RET) - with locals pointing out that the move would result in a significant increase in the cost of travel.

The islanders' campaign has been backed by Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer, who raised the issue with Ms Hyslop in the Scottish Parliament after writing to CalMac.

In response to Mr Greer’s question transport minister Fiona Hyslop confirmed that an alternative ticket option is expected to be put in place soon.

Ms Hyslop said CalMac's online booking platform was "undergoing stabilisation work" to allow an "interim product" to be introduced soon.

But while welcoming Ms Hyslop's move, Mr Greer accused CalMac of being "tight-lipped and unhelpful" both to him and to the Cumbrae Ferry Users Group and Cumbrae Community Council.

Mr Greer said he had written to CalMac Ferries' chief executive Robbie Drummond urging the firm to engage properly with the community on alternative ticketing options - but that Mr Drummond had "failed to answer the request" put to him.

Mr Greer said: “It’s vital that CalMac rebuilds its relationship with the ferry users who’ve been hit hardest by the withdrawal of season tickets.

"The operator needs to make sure they come up with a solution that works for commuters, which will require proper engagement and consultation.

"Waiting until spring and then telling Cumbrae residents what will happen just isn’t good enough.

“Most working-age people on the island are very regular ferry users, and many travel to the mainland daily. This is genuinely a lifeline service and residents shouldn’t be priced out.”

CalMac and the Scottish Government have been contacted for comment.