Kate Forbes MSP has invited the Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse to come to her Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency to meet with ferry groups concerned about the Mallaig to Armadale crossing.
Last week, Ms Forbes met with Mr Wheelhouse at the Scottish Parliament, where they discussed short-term improvements to the service.
This included a pilot scheme for the 2019/20 winter service where the Loch Bhrusda would be deployed to Mallaig for two or three extended periods when it is not being used for refit relief.
Kate Forbes MSP also stressed the need for long-term improvements on the route – which is the fifth most popular crossing on CalMac’s network last year.
She said: “Residents and businesses in Mallaig and Sleat want, I know, a light at the end of the tunnel.
“The saga of the Mallaig-Armadale ferry service, which first started when the MV Coruisk was taken to serve the Oban-Craignure route, is well documented.
“Although the service has improved over the last two years, it still needs a purpose-built vessel.”
Kate Forbes MSP added: “Most importantly, I invited Paul Wheelhouse to the constituency to meet representatives of Mallaig and Sleat in the new year.
“I also discussed a proposal to improve the service and Paul Wheelhouse has agreed to consider it seriously and confirm in the new year whether he can fund and support the proposal.
“Lastly, I stressed the need for long term improvements, which I recognise are dependent on other factors such as the completion of the vessels under construction.
“Far from being an ‘academic’ meeting, we discussed concrete proposals which I hope Paul Wheelhouse will return in the new year with firm commitment to accept.”