Road Equivalent Tariff - a Pilot Study in Scotland

Road Equivalent Tariff - a Pilot Study in Scotland


F Alexander, P Fuller, P Gidney, I Mowat, Halcrow, UK


The focus of the paper is the Road Equivalent Tariff Pilot operating on ferry routes in Scotland. The paper will outline the monitoring programme and key findings of the assessment examining the impacts of the Pilot.


Lifeline ferry services are integral to supporting Scotland's island communities. Recognising the concern within remote and fragile communities about the affordability of ferry travel and the impact this has on islanders, local economies and the wider national economy, the Scottish Government announced in August 2007 its intention to establish a Pilot scheme to investigate the most effective and sustainable structure for setting ferry fares based on the cost of travelling the equivalent distance by road - Road Equivalent Tariff (RET).

The policy rationale of RET is to reduce the price of ferry fares to a cost comparable with road travel. making island communities more accessible. The opportunity for increased movement creates the prospect of generating benefits, economic or otherwise, associated with a change in travel patterns and closer integration with mainland life.

A RET Pilot scheme commenced in October 2008 and will continue to operate until March 2012. The Pilot operates on all existing routes sailing between the Western Isles and the Scottish mainland, including Stornoway - Ullapool, Uig - Tarbert/Lochmaddy and Oban - Castlebay/Lochboisdale. The Pilot also operates on the route between Oban - Coll/Tiree.

After providing an overview of the principle of the RET policy itself, the paper will outline the monitoring programme and activities undertaken to provide a robust dataset to inform an assessment of the economic, social and environmental impacts of the Pilot over the first two years of the Pilot.

The paper will then consider the assessment and approach used to structure this around a series of hypotheses. In doing so the paper will set out the key findings of the impacts of RET on island economies, their quality of life and the environment. The assessment also included analysis of a range of national indicators to enable comparison to be drawn between the trends in the Pilot area, other island communities and the Scottish mainland. These are supplemented by the before and after surveys and interviews with businesses on the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree.

Some outcomes may be perceived as a positive for islanders and others less so. This wide ranging review does not attempt an overall evaluation, but rather seeks to highlight the diverse range of impacts of this unique Pilot project.


Association for European Transport