Transport was never really that much of an issue for me until I moved to Shetland. Now – as I suspect must be the case for just about every other person here – it is a really big deal. How we get around, on and off these islands has a significant impact on our lifestyles and our wallets, so it’s not surprising that hardly a
week passes without transport issues making the front pages of The Shetland Times.
In recent times, many of these afore-mentioned column inches have been devoted to lamenting the hugely inflated cost and unreliability of the airlines which provide our “lifeline” link with the mainland. Personally, I find air travel such a frustrating and dehumanising process, that I’d probably plump for the good old North boat even if flights off Shetland were cheap as chips and ran like clockwork.
Just before Christmas I took part in a Radio Shetland Speakeasy. When asked by host Davie Gardner what I thought Shetlanders could do to challenge the prohibitive cost of air travel, I suggested that everyone should take the boat instead. The rest of the panel laughed, and I realised they thought I was joking. I wasn’t. If Shetlanders voted with their feet and opted to travel exclusively by ferry then surely the airline would have to reconsider its exorbitant fares.
So much for travel on and off the island then. How we get around these islands can be just as controversial. I’d ditch my car in a heartbeat if we had better public transport and cycle lanes. And when I say cycle lanes, I don’t mean a pathetic white line painted down the road.
Well, that’s my transport tuppence-worth. Whatever your views are, we’re confident you’ll find something in this issue to inform, interest and entertain. Happy reading.