This in from the Isle of Wight Bus an Rail Users’ Group (IWBRUG). Ed
IWBRUG has been made aware, following meetings with senior representatives of both the IOW Council and of Southern Vectis, of massive cuts to bus services on the Isle of Wight that are currently being considered and which would be effective from September 2015.
The cuts to bus services are being considered by the bus operator as a result of the budget decision made by the IW Council at its meeting held on 25 February 2015, whereby savings options to entirely cease funding for community transport and subsidised bus services were agreed.
Isolation for many local communities
Without the Council funding for non-commercial bus services – which funding has been provided since the deregulation of the bus industry in 1986, many local communities may see bus service cuts that could leave them isolated without a bus service.
Local authorities are empowered to provide funding for bus services, which although not being commercially viable for the bus operators, are nevertheless socially desirable.
Council budget cuts
Funding cuts by the Council are expected to have the knock-on effect of the additional withdrawal of even more bus services that are currently commercially provided by Southern Vectis.
David Rogers, Secretary of IWBRUG said,
“The Council’s intention to withdraw funding for these socially desirable and well used bus services could result in the most serious damage to the bus network on the Island that has been seen for decades.
“Over the years this funding has also pump-primed growth of the commercial bus network which has benefitted local residents and visitors alike. It has significantly encouraged provision of a comprehensive and frequent network of services, substantial growth in passenger numbers, added credibility to green tourism aspirations and increased the possibility of greater social inclusion for older and more vulnerable local residents.
“We encourage not just bus users, but also those who care about the social well-being of the Isle of Wight, to bring pressure upon the Council to find and use contingency funding to help maintain and develop further our local bus network. Cuts to bus services will damage our tourism industry and jobs could be lost not only in the tourism sector but also at the local bus company.
“We invite everyone to come and put their views about cuts to bus service funding direct to the Council and Southern Vectis representatives who are attending and answering questions at the IWBRUG Public Meeting which is being held on Saturday 21st March at 1030 at the Quay Street Methodist Hall in Quay Street, Newport.”