This in from David Rogers from the Isle of Wight Bus and Rail Users’ Group (IWBRUG). Ed
IWBRUG has been made aware by representatives of the Isle of Wight Council and by Southern Vectis of massive cuts to bus services planned for 2015.
Also some travel concessions currently benefitting some of the most vulnerable Isle of Wight residents, including people with disability or mental health issues, are set to be withdrawn.
Not protecting the most vulnerable
If the proposed cuts, which are to be considered at the meeting of the Isle of Wight Council Executive on 13 January, go through, then it could result in many local communities being left isolated without a bus service and could well see a knock-on effect of the additional withdrawal of current commercial services operated by Southern Vectis.
People with disability or mental health issues will be hit by the withdrawal of travel concessions that they have enjoyed for 30 years.
David Rogers, Secretary of IWBRUG said,
“This package of proposed cuts to services and concessions amounts to the most serious and possibly irreversible damage to public transport on the Island seen for decades, and we encourage not just bus users, but also those who care about the social well-being of people with disability or mental health issues, to bring pressure upon the Council to stop these cruel cuts.”
Details of the Council proposals are noted below…..
All of the proposed cuts are totally against the Isle of Wight Council’s stated policy to protect the most vulnerable people on the Island. These are not mere cuts but a total removal of all non-statutory public transport funding.
Community Bus Services
This proposal would see the withdrawal of funding for Community Bus Services and alternative means of community provision initiated where possible.
This process has already begun with cuts from 5th January to all Community Bus Services. The Council’s hope is that Parish Councils will make new arrangements for these services. Our belief is that this will lead to fragmentation of services and further service losses in places not served by the Southern Vectis Network.
Subsidised Bus Services
This proposal would see the withdrawal of funding to support local bus services deemed to be uneconomic by the service provider.
The withdrawal of subsidised bus services is likely to destabilise the present network and leave many people of all ages without a bus service. Many vulnerable people would be, to all intents and purposes, trapped in their homes. It is our belief that some services will be lost and many areas will have few or no buses. The Council clearly have no idea what we shall be losing as they are leaving cuts to the operator.
This proposal would limit availability of the concessionary fares scheme to the statutory scheme only. This would mean withdrawing the local concession provided to those with a pass issued on the grounds of disability to travel at any time, and the local Islander Card scheme subject to consultation and equality impact assessment.
Disabled persons have had concessions at all times of the day, every day for over 30 years. This would affect many of the most vulnerable people on the Island. It also may reduce the income of Islandline as the franchise period comes to its end.
Renegotiation of Concessionary Fares to DFT scheme
This proposal requires notice to be given on the current concessionary fares scheme with a view to moving towards the standard Department for Transport (DfT) scheme. A new concessionary fares scheme has been prepared and notice on the current scheme was given on 1st December 2014. The council will enter into a period of negotiation with the bus service provider which may effect the actual proposed saving.
This is an attempt by the Council to reduce the amount which they pay to operators of bus services for each concessionary journey.
It should be borne in mind that the majority of this money is provided by central government.