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October 7, 2009

Journey to Jura

Until recently the journey between the Isle of Jura and the mainland required a ferry trip to nearby Islay and from there a second ferry to the mainland.   Sometimes referred to as ‘double insularity’, these access issues have been long identified as a barrier to developing sustainable economic life on the island.  For the past two years the local development trust has been piloting a direct ferry link from the island to Tayvallich. The islanders love it but its future is now in doubt

A LACK of passengers is threatening the award-winning passenger ferry service between Jura and Tayvallich.

The service, which began as a pilot scheme two years ago, allows islanders to access mainland Argyll in less than one hour instead of travelling to the mainland via the neighbouring Isle of Islay.

It has also brought thousands of pounds in extra revenue to the island.

Argyll and Bute Council agreed to subsidise a three-year pilot scheme but the subsidy alone may not be enough to keep the service going, as it comes to the end of its second season.

And ferry operator Jura Development Trust is already trying to find an alternative means of funding, should council funding cease when the pilot scheme ends.

Whilst the ferry has been hailed as a great success by islanders, the lack of tourist traffic using the service has threatened its future.

Dick Mayes, former chairman of Initiative at the Edge, the group that established the ferry service, says the future of the service is uncertain.

He added: ‘The number of passengers using the ferry is not as high as we expected it to be, so the amount of money coming in is not enough to run a service six days per week, from Easter to the end of September.

‘After next year we really don’t know where the money is going to come from so we will need to assess that with the council and other organisations.

‘It is an absolutely brilliant service; you can go to Oban and back in one day and if you leave on the 7am, you can be in Glasgow by 11.30am.

‘It has also had huge benefits for the friends and family of people here, who have visited more regularly.’