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Northern Isles ferry fares frozen for another year 

Transport and islands minister Humza Yousaf pledges to continue work on new ticket policy.

Ferries: Ticket prices will not go up in 2017 (file pic).
Ferries: Ticket prices will not go up in 2017 (file pic). © STV

Fares on Northern Isles ferry services will be frozen for the second year in a row while an initiative to cut ticket prices continues.

Transport and the islands minister Humza Yousaf announced the move on Tuesday during a tour of Orkney and Shetland.

He said prices would be kept at the same level for 2017 as the Scottish Government progresses its project to reduce fares on the Northern Isles network.

Mr Yousaf, who is visiting Orkney and Shetland as part of a summer island tour, said future fare levels are already being considered as part of a study into the Northern Isles ferry services.

A further report has been commissioned to look at a new fares policy for the network.

Mr Yousaf said: "We want these vital services to continue to be accessible and affordable, so keeping ticket prices on hold next year will help achieve that.

"We have made a key commitment to cut fares on ferry services to the Northern Isles and we continue to work towards that goal.

"I have commissioned a study to look specifically at fares on Northern Isles routes, with a view to bringing in a new pricing policy and ultimately reducing the cost of ferry travel."

He said the Northern Isles presented a "number of challenges" for a new fares policy.

Mr Yousaf added: "Bringing in a road equivalent tariff would significantly increase the ticket prices on the majority of services. The presence of a commercial operator on some routes also complicates matters.

"So I will be asking my officials to engage and meet with the local councils, elected members, community groups and other key stakeholders to discuss the potential options available to us."

Speaking in Orkney on Tuesday, he said: "The Scottish Government is committed to empowering our island communities, which is why I'm meeting with local people to discuss the issues that really matter to people living and working on Scottish islands."

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