Case Study - The sky’s the limit for public transport

Having a choice of transport is something most of us take for granted in our day-to-day lives, but for those living in some of Scotland’s most remote communities, public transport is a lifeline.


 Coll, Tiree and Colonsay, with their world famous scenery, offer a remote way of life for people whose homes are on the islands. However, living in isolated communities does mean that ways to quickly access the mainland are limited.
The Scottish Government recognises that it is vital for the nation that it supports the economic and social sustainability of its most fragile, and in some cases, depopulating communities. Providing grants for ‘lifeline air services’ to local authorities responsible for remote villages and towns is just one the Government’s policy which aims to do this.
In line with The Scottish Government’s policy, Argyll & Bute Council delivers essential transport links from the mainland to outlying islands. Through the Scottish Government’s flagship procurement portal, Public Contracts Scotland, it has recently awarded a contract to Cumbernauld-based Hebridean Air Services to provide a frequent, low-cost flight schedule from Oban to Coll, Tiree and Colonsay and between Coll and Tiree.
Providing a rapid means of transport to Oban, the air service boosts the islands’ economic base, as well as helping families access schools – children attend school on the mainland as borders, then travel home for weekends – health care and other vital services.
Hebridean Air Services specialises in passenger, cargo charters, aerial surveys and photography – and is a regular user of PCS.  The Council contract has had a significant impact on the businesses which now constitutes the majority of the business’ turnover.
Alan Brough, Head of Procurement Argyll & Bute Council said: “The air service gives access to essential services such as financial, commercial, educational, professional, advisory and  health  which cannot be provided locally. It can also be used for the development of tourism, which in turn has a direct impact on the local economy. Such is the importance of these services the Council has contributed with the provision of a subsidy.  Under European  regulation, we had an obligation to seek competitive bids on an EU-wide basis. This requirement was advertised on the Scottish Governments purchasing portal Public Contracts Scotland and we received three competitive bids.”
George Cormack, owner of Hebridean Air Services said: “We responded to the Council’s advert which appeared in Public Contracts Scotland and submitted our best offer. PCS is a good resource for new business leads and the tendering process is very straightforward. I am very pleased that the contract has been awarded to us. We have already integrated regular services between Oban and Islay into the Argyll and Bute Contract as well as establishing a link between Colonsay and Islay."