BRIEFING ON SUBVENTION FOR FERRY SERVICES IN NORTHERN IRELAND Strangford Lough Ferry Service The Strangford Lough Ferry

Service is directly provided by Roads Service and is particularly important to those who live in the Lower Ards Peninsula, as it facilitates improved access to schools, hospitals and other services. History A ferry service has been in existence between Portaferry and Strangford for almost four centuries and was first granted a ferry quarter by James I in 1612 to a Peter Tumulton. The first steam ferry in Ireland, "The Lady of the Lake", was commissioned to take up service between Portaferry and Strangford in June 1836. In early 1946, two flat bottom landing craft, capable of accommodating about 36 passengers was brought into service. The ferry service continued to operate as a privately owned passenger service until 1967, when it was brought into Government ownership within Down County Council. Down County Council started the current roll-on roll-off vehicle ferry service in September 1969. Following the re-organisation of local government in October 1973, responsibility for the ferry service transferred to the Ministry of Development Roads Executive and subsequently to DoE Roads Service. In December 1999, responsibility for the Strangford Lough Ferry Service transferred to the Department for Regional Development when Roads Service became part of DRD. General To travel the distance between Strangford and Portaferry by road is approximately 75 kilometres and takes about an hour and a half by car. By contrast, the ferry route is approximately 0.6 nautical miles with a typical crossing time of about eight minutes.

BRIEFING ON SUBVENTION FOR FERRY SERVICES IN NORTHERN IRELAND The Strangford to Portaferry route is an important transport link in the local economy. Whilst not classified as a life-line route, such as Ballycastle to Rathlin, the route carries an average of about 1,500 passengers per day. including many schoolchildren to and from school. The ferry runs for approximately 16 hours each day, 364 days per year. The service normally operates with one vessel, leaving each slipway at 30 minute intervals; from Strangford on the hour and half hour and from Portaferry at a quarter past and a quarter to the hour. The ferry is operated by Roads Service staff, with specialist marine work undertaken through an external contractor. Overall running costs vary from year to year, depending on the amount of maintenance work required by the vessels at annual refits. Almost all of the maintenance work carried out is deemed essential in order to retain Maritime and Coastguard Agency certification. The Department's Roads Service has advised that for: • • • 2011/12 the total costs (operating and notional) were £2,627,994 and income received from ticket sales was £910,846; 2010/11 the total costs (operating and notional] were £2,175,601 and income received from ticket sales was £363,889; and 2009/10 the total costs (operating and notional) were £2,014,816 and income received from ticket sales was £914,805. Cost recovery rates over the last 3 years range between 45% and 35% with projected figures for 2012/13 estimated to be 40%. Legislative Position The Strangford Lough Ferry Service is operated under the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 (Articles 98-109).

BRIEFING ON SUBVENTION FOR FERRY SERVICES IN NORTHERN IRELAND Prior to 1993, the service was operated under Ihe Down County Council (Strangford Lough Ferry Act) 1967, which was repealed by the Roads Order. The Department has powers to carry out work in Strangford and Portaferry harbours under the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847. The Strangford Ferry and Harbour Byelaws (1988) were created under the 1967 act and replaced the original 1969 byelaws Rathlin Island Ferry Service The provision of a modern, affordable ferry service is a key strategic objective in the Executive's Rathlin Island Policy. This in turn plays an important role in other objectives including those relating to tourism, health and education. The Ballycastle to Rathlin Island ferry service has been operated by Rathlin Island Ferry Limited since it won the current contract in 2008. It was previously operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (now known as CalMac Ferries Limited) from December 1996 to June 2008. Historically, a ferry service between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle was provided by the islanders themselves using converted fishing boats. In 1991, the two existing ferry operators on Rathlin Island approached the then Department of the Environment to seek some form of subsidy as they were experiencing financial difficulties. The Department recognised that action would have to be taken to improve the ferry service in order to halt the decline in Rathlin's population, to encourage tourism and improve economic prospects. The Department, on the basis of an investment appraisal, decided to provide financial support for improvements to the existing vessels and an operating subsidy, in the form of a minimum wage. The Department also assisted Moyle District Council with the purchase and conversion of a building at Ballycastle harbour to serve as a terminal for the ferry. The Department continues to provide a subsidy to the Ballycastle to Rathlin Island ferry service. The amount of annual subsidy currently paid is of the order of £600,000. This equates to just under £8 per trip. In addition the Rathlin Island Residents' Pass provides

BRIEFING ON SUBVENTION FOR FERRY SERVICES IN NORTHERN IRELAND islanders with a 50% discount on the standard advertised fare. Passengers with a disability who have a Residents' Pass receive a 75% discount when travelling with a car. As the ferry service is classified as public transport Smart Pass holders receive the same discounts as on bus and rail services. The ferry service has benefitted from an increase in passenger numbers, including tourists and this has helped create jobs and the tourist spending on the island. Lough Foyle Ferry Service The Magilligan to Greencastle ferry has been in operation since 2002 as a commercial venture provided by the Lough Foyle Ferry Company under a joint contract with the local councils in Limavady and Donegal. Funding for its establishment was provided through the ED Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, the International Fund of Ireland and Limavady and Donegal councils. The Department has not had any role in the provision of the ferry service between Magilligan and Greencastle and has no legislative provision to contribute any funding toward it.

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