Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Northlink Photo ID survey results

The survey has closed and the results have been counted. I've written up a report that can be viewed in pdf form by clicking here, but if you just want to read the second page of the 38, it is reproduced below.

Executive summary

The large response to the survey (1186 responses) shows that the introduction of the photo ID requirement is a matter of concern to the people of Orkney and Shetland and arguably should have been the subject of some consultation between Northlink Ferries and the customers it is imposing this on. While this survey is by no means definitive, it allows all opinions to be expressed and thus should be at least indicative of the overall balance of opinion in the islands.

The response was particularly good from Orkney residents, and while a diversity of opinion was shown, particularly in the 500+ text comments submitted, the dominant impression is of dismay and some anger that the photo ID scheme is to be implemented by Northlink. The overall figures show that 64% of respondents are not in favour of the ID scheme as opposed 27% in favour, with more opposition from those who travel to Orkney from Scotland (77% against and 10% for), and less from Shetland (55% against and 34% for) where the arguments regarding security are more credible, but still questionable. For those who question these arguments the proposed scheme is highly unwelcome, unnecessary and to be resisted, perhaps by choosing another operator.

Indeed, when asked if the proposal would affect the choice of operator 43% of respondents said they would be less likely to use Northlink, and only 10% said they would be more likely. In the case of Shetland respondents the predominant responses (83%) were ‘No choice’ or ‘No difference’ reflecting Northlink’s monopoly position. For those travelling to Orkney from the mainland, who cannot benefit from the Islander discount, and for whom the fraud prevention argument is irrelevant, 64% were less likely to use Northlink and only 3% more likely.

These results are mirrored for the final question which asked what effect the photo ID scheme has on the respondent’s opinion of Northlink. In Orkney 61% responded that they have a more (or much more) negative opinion as a result, with 19% more (or much more) positive. For those travelling to Orkney from the mainland it was 78% and 7% percent respectively, and in Shetland the opinion was more mellow at 53% and 30% respectively.

It is apparent that the proposed photo ID scheme is unwelcome in Orkney, and is particularly opposed by travellers to Orkney, the fare paying passengers who are not subsidised to travel and can be seen to be most disadvantaged.

Travel to and from Orkney is currently possible with another operator and as 50% of the responses from those who make this journey said they are less likely to use Northlink, Pentland Ferries look likely to benefit while our lifeline service is undermined, by a policy decision that Northlink do not have to make.