European transport operator CalMac has been announced as the preferred tenderer for the next contract to operate the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS).
The contract which will begin from October 1st this year is worth £900m and will run over the next eight years.
Henceforth Calmac will act as the operator for two contracts- the delivery of the Operations contract for Transport Scotland and the delivery of the Harbours contract for Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL).
Calmac has made a series of commitments to win the tender which include investing £6m to improve vessels and ports; adopting smart and integrated ticketing systems on key routes; securing local business opportunities; attempt to involve the local communities in investment and service decisions by appointing a new Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement post and a Communities Board.
They also plan to retain a few existing features of the maritime authority including retaining the head office in Gourock, continuing as a living wage employer as well as ensuring the operational continuity of the existing routes.
Additionally, Calmac has committed to retain the CalMac pension scheme along with a policy of no compulsory redundancies.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "CalMac have a long and proud tradition of running the Clyde and Hebrides routes, and the company is woven into the fabric of the communities they serve.
"Their tender offers a good deal for those communities served by these vital transport links and ensures that we can maximise the opportunities to support and nurture our island economies.
"CalMac will better manage demand to drive an increase in traffic, as well as make the ferry services more attractive with the introduction of smart ticketing on key routes."
Under the public service contract, the Scottish government will assume the responsibility of key aspects which include fares and timetables as well as vessels and port infrastructure will continue being controlled by the government.
Calmac currently is abiding to Transport Scotland’s confidentiality agreement for a period of ten days, after which further details on the tender will be revealed.