Yell Community Council   Yell Community Council
Yell Community Council

YCC meeting with Ferry Services.

Notes of a meeting held on Monday 14th January 2019 at 7pm in Mid Yell School.


Laurence Odie, Chair, YCC                                             Robert Jamieson, YCC

Steven Henderson, YCC                                                 Julia Lyth, Clerk, YCC

Frances Browne, N I Development Worker           Cllr Ryan Thomson

Patrick Fordyce, Chair, Unst CC                                   Gordon Thomson, Unst CC

Lee Coutts, Engineering Superintendent, SIC       Greg Maitland, Harbour Master, SIC

Andrew Inkster, Ports & Harbours, SIC                    Sheena Summers, Business Support Manager, SIC

Ian Pearson, Marine Superintendent, SIC             

Michael Craigie, Executive Manager, Transport Planning, SIC & Lead Officer, Zettrans.


Some members of YCC met with Sella Ness in December where some issues were discussed. The purpose of this meeting is to give feedback from that meeting and to further discuss the issues.

Monday Maintenance. Some SIC officers thought that YCC were just requesting this to be on another day during the week to save it being on the back of 2 days with less runs. This would not solve the problem of lack of capacity in getting the fish off the island and down to Lerwick in time to get the Northlink ferry, this would just move the problem to another day. YCC were requesting that maintenance be carried out on a Saturday or Sunday but this would be too expensive and so cannot be considered. YCC queried if it would be possible to do the maintenance during the night when crew are on board anyway. They also queried if the maintenance could be split over 2 days instead of the ferry being out of action for a whole 6 hour block on one day. Another suggestion was that if the maintenance had to be on one day whether the crew from the ferry at the back of the pier could cover the breaks of the ferry in use. This would allow some extra runs on the single vessel day. Action: these suggestions will be taken away and looked into.

Single ferry/bus.  In the case of breakdowns/single ferry, the 8.45 ferry will now wait for the town bus to arrive before leaving Toft. This worked well over the festive period and so has now been implemented fully.

Weather disruptions. When the ferry service is down to single vessel due to the weather, crew from the unused vessel will be utilised to cover breaks to allow extra runs.

Changing signs. The time that the signage is changed after a breakdown is an issue. If it has been on single vessel and the problem gets fixed, the signs should be changed after the next sailing. If someone has been waiting for a long time in a single queue then the problem is fixed and the sign is changed to normal service, all the booked passengers can then go in front of that person which isn’t fair. Changing the sign after the sailing would stop this.

Online Commercial bookings. An updated booking system which allows commercial vehicles to book via the online booking system has now been devised and should be in place in the next couple of months. YCC query if this will include buses as the passenger numbers can vary. SIC will speak to the system supplier about this.

2nd sign at Toft. As you currently cannot see what the sign says if you are near the end of the queue, the benefits of having a 2nd sign further up are obvious. SIC will talk to roads dept to see what extra signage, if any, is allowed on safety grounds but the sign could be placed well before the bend just to give drivers some warning.

Usage figures. As YCC regularly ask ferries dept for the usage figures Michael Craigie sent and brought with him a huge spreadsheet with all the sailings on from the last 4 years. This is something that YCC can get on a regular basis, but it would be better if he knew what figures we were looking for. They are currently working on a simplified colour coded calendar with easily visible hot spots which may be more useful. As well as the usage figures, YCC would really like the details of the vehicles left behind at each sailing.

Saturday Timetable. YCC query if the timetable could be tightened up a little to get an extra run.

Sunday morning timetable. YCC query if the Sunday morning timetable could be set the same as the Saturday morning timetable. Small changes would also be needed for the Bluemull timetable so Bluemull Sound and Yell Sound work together. SIC staff thought this could be implemented in time for the new summer timetable.

7.15 ferry/bus timetable. There was a discussion about the proposed bus timetable changes to accommodate the education dept changes. Proposal 1 shows the Ulsta ferry leaving at 7.10am but this is not early enough to allow the bus to leave at 7.30am. Proposal 2 shows the ferry leaving at 7.05am. Ferries dept will see if Bluemull Sound can start 5-10 minutes earlier to be able to feed into this earlier time on Yell Sound.

Summer/Winter timetable dates. Gordon Thomson queried if the timetable changeover dates could move to later in April and October to tie in with stock sales and shows better. Suggested looking at the usage figures to see movements and if this is possible.


Festive timetable. It was noted that as a Saturday timetable is used for this period the bus had arrived at Toft at 12.05 but the ferry has already sailed at 12.00. As the ferry does not leave Ulsta again until 12.45 can the 12 noon sailing be delayed.

Boxing day/2nd Jan service. On 2nd Jan some visitors had to leave on the 9.15am ferry to get the Northlink as the next one at 3.45pm was too tight as they had a car also. Request that this is moved a little earlier for future years to ensure can get to the Northlink in plenty of time.

Bookings only over Christmas period. The bookings only ferries were discussed. These need to be booked while the booking office was open. This should improve once the new booking system is in place and can be booked up to 2 hours before the sailing. Once the booking system is closed it would be good to have some system in place so you know which ferries will be running.

Booking Office hours. From the summer timetable the booking office will be open Monday-Saturday 8.00am - 5.00pm

Community runs. YCC have requested having more community runs per year to keep up with demand. It was felt that the fares of vehicles and people travelling should also be taken into account of those using the late hire. If 30 folk are going out on a late hire that means that they have already paid a return fare coming in. YCC request that the cost of charters for Yell Sound should be investigated as some crew stay on the vessel overnight anyway. If the cost to run is lower this could mean extra community runs.

For charter hires, it was noted that fares can be collected by the charterer which can help towards the hire cost.

Adverse weather disruptions. It has been noted that there are now more weather disruptions to service than in previous years. SIC have noted this and a detailed report now needs to be sent to Sella Ness for any non-sailings.


Laurence thanked everyone for attending.













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