In a humiliating rebuke for state-owned ferry company CalMac, the Infrastructure Secretary yesterday demanded to see improvements on the Gourock-Dunoon route, which caused controversy earlier this year when the vehicle ferry was removed and replaced with a passenger-only service.
It follows a public meeting last week at which residents of the Cowal peninsula voiced their concerns over the number of cancelled sailings and poor port facilities following the introduction of the MV Ali Cat and MV Argyll Flyer in July.
However, he was accused of trying to shift the blame for its failings last night as opposition politicians called on ministers to accept responsibility.
Mr Neil said he had asked for an improvement plan to be presented after a meeting with the heads of David MacBrayne, CalMac's parent company, which set up Argyll Ferries to operate Gourock-Dunoon.
He said: "We are absolutely committed to providing a ferry service that meets the needs of passengers and have made clear our disappointment."
Figures obtained by The Herald earlier this week show that 3.6% of sailings between Gourock and Dunoon have been cancelled or disrupted since July. Passengers have also complained about port facilities.