Thanks to Jon Young for this great piece of news from Niton and Whitwell. Ed
South Wight villagers aim to show they’re no NitWhits when it comes to dealing with cuts to rural bus services.
Niton and Whitwell, left with a skeleton Southern Vectis service following the withdrawal of Isle of Wight Council subsidies, will next week have a brand new way of getting around after the Parish Council stepped in to organise a minibus service. It will link the villages with Ventnor on Monday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, starting on Monday (Sept 28).
“Hail and ride” service
The “hail and ride” service, operated by Minibus-Plus, is especially aimed at those with mobility problems, with a set route but flexible stopping points.
The Parish Council hopes that, as well as filling gaps of more than two hours in the No. 6 timetable, the bus will help to compensate for the withdrawal of the “Dial-a-Bus” service, which until earlier this month (Sept) provided a lifeline for those unable to walk far.
A six-month trial of the new service, dubbed the NitWhit Bus, is being underwritten by the Parish Council to the tune of £7,000, some of which will be recouped from a flat-rate fare of £1 per single journey. Free passes (age-related and disability) will be accepted, although a £1 voluntary donation from pass-holders will be requested.
Parish councillor Jonathan Young explained:
“This is a big, and we think bold, project for a small parish council such as ours. But we’ve been saving up for 18 months, because we saw this problem coming.
“What happens after the six-month trial depends very much on the support we get from villagers; in particular the level of donations from pass-holders who are entitled by law to ride free.”
Timetable and route details are being delivered door-to-door in the parish.
Cllr Young added:
“The No. 6 route is no longer part of the Community Bus Programme – a decision into which we had no input – and so we had to use our initiative, and do so quickly, to stop people being stranded for hours waiting for a bus.
“Our villages also keenly felt the loss of Dial-a-Bus, so we hope the “hail-and-ride” service will stop vulnerable people feeling trapped in their homes.”