THE most surprising thing about your report about one million extra journeys on the Queensferry Crossing ("Greens see red as one million extra journeys are made over bridge", The Herald, January 9) is that it’s a surprise. Did the Government and Transport Scotland seriously think that the current poor public transport links between Edinburgh and Fife would take up the slack? Anyone who uses the trains and buses at peak commuting times will tell you it’s a lottery for punctuality, discomfort all at excessive cost.

Back in 2007 when the Queensferry Crossing was conceived, no doubt in part to demonstrate SNP’s infrastructure credibility, they missed a much greener solution: Sir Brian Souter’s Stagecoach ferry proposition. If anyone is interested, I’d commend them to read the lead project manager’s summary in the December edition of Scottish Field, "Mean Green Hover Machine”. The 2007 trial ran a hover ferry from Kirkcaldy to Portobello in 17 minutes connecting to points in Edinburgh by shuttle buses. The trial demonstrated that it was expected that 870,000 people would make the journey annually. But Edinburgh City Council and the Government, for reasons best known to themselves, but probably focussed on funding road bridges and trams, were short-sighted in declining to support this outstanding idea.

To me it’s astonishing that we are not planning a network of fast ferries between Fife, Edinburgh and the Lothians. All major waterways, from Amsterdam to Singapore, provide this firm of transport as part of an overall inter connectivity solution to reduce road usage.

It’s about time we had another look at this sustainable solution to the current road network congestion and pollution.

Ian McNair, Cellardyke.

WHAT a great idea from Patricia Fort (Letters, January 8). Arran has recently been cut off from Ardrossan for two days by ferries not being able to run due to weather conditions. What a difference a tunnel would make. No more weather disruption and from the railway station at Brodick, I could take the clockwise line to the south or the anti-clockwise line to the north which would let me disembark at my well known “holiday resort" , the one whose name begins with “A".

This would mean not having to spend an extra day or two at the “resort” which I had not budgeted for.

However, there is a big financial drawback. The cost.

Like all large transport projects, rail, trams, tunnels or airports, the final cost is far higher than the the cost predicted and in most cases the taxpayer will have to foot the bill for the difference.

As always there will be hidden costs, but most of these projects are presented with a minimal contingency allowance to ensure that approval is granted.

Obviously a tunnel to Arran would be a folly too far, but a proposed tunnel to Ireland which may be being discussed by transport authorities just now should have the proposed cost at least trebled to equate to the final account figure.

I would have thought that the outcome of the Brexit mess might have pushed this idea into the realms of financial nonsense.

Let’s get decent ferries with suitable ports up and running as soon as possible using a fraction of the cost of building tunnels or bridges.

Malcolm Rankin, Seamill.

JOHN Whittle (Letters, January 9) obviously speaks from experience when, referring to the Ferries Unit at Transport Scotland, he writes: "Given the lack of experience of dual fuel vessels, it would be interesting to know to what extent the research prior to the policy decision to include the purchase of such vessels explored the potential problems of building and operating them" and of " the loss of revenue from reduced reliability ... having repercussions for social and economic conditions in the communities served.

In a letter pointing out that Calmac, as the ferry operator, was often unfairly maligned for matters beyond their control, which you were kind enough to print on April 30, 2018, I wrote: "Ultimate responsibility for our ferry services lies with Transport Scotland ... which ought to be held accountable for most of the current shambles .. Those of us who live on the islands ... require one thing above all others from our ferry service: reliability".

And "spending around £100 million of public money on challenging new technology is problematic and suggests a failure of understanding of what really matters to islanders... the fleet ... urgently needs reinforcements, whose primary quality ought to be reliability."

Nearly two years after I wrote that letter, the shambles has only got worse, as evidenced by the recent chaos on Arran ("Search for new solutions as fresh weather chaos hits ferry services", The Herald, January 7) and the £100 million bill has increased to £200m and when associated harbour "improvements" are added, will probably end up around £300m.

Meanwhile Pentland Ferries built a vessel in Vietnam, in two years, with vehicle capacity of around 75 per cent that of the new Glen Sannox, for £14m.

Hopefully, the Ferguson Marine disaster has concentrated minds at Transport Scotland and in future, reliability and the needs of island communities are prioritised, above all, when new vessels are being planned.

Listening to those communities would be a good place to start.

Sandy MacAlister, Shiskine, Isle of Arran.