Many thanks to Stuart George from the IW Bus & Rail Users’ Group for this report from Saturday’s public meeting. Ed
Meeting held 20th April 2013
There were about 40 members of the public present. The IW Bus & Rail Users’ Group Secretary, David Rogers, reported the group’s concerns about the future of the community bus scheme, and added that the group had requested the IW Council to improve the concessionary fares scheme above the legal minimum for Island residents, as many other councils had done for their local residents, but this had been refused.
Matt Kitchin, Southern Vectis’ new general manager, reported that 37 new vehicles had been bought for Island schools transport.
He reminded those present about the “Key” card, which gives occasional bus users unlimited travel on Southern Vectis buses for just £3 a day on those days they use the buses.
He said that the Island Coaster service, which serves the Island’s south coast and which currently has just one return journey each day, would be increased to four return journeys a day from July and would also be equipped to carry up to six bikes. This was being funded by a grant from Central Government’s local sustainable transport fund (LSTF) which would also lead to the introduction of real-time information systems at key locations.
Edward Giles, IW Council cabinet member with responsibility for transport, added that the LSTF grant of £4M was intended mainly for walking and cycling improvements but, as mentioned by Matt, some would be used for public transport enhancements. The Council were also contributing £1.3M in match funding.
He mentioned the loss of service 25 for Medina Park residents. This service had been funded by developer contributions, but these had now been exhausted and the service had been withdrawn this month. However he was pleased to report that an extension to community bus service 34 meant the residents had retained a bus service.
There was then an opportunity for questions and comments from members of the public. These ranged from maintenance of bus shelters (‘Island Roads’ are now responsible under the new PFI), fare increases (confirmation that none planned) to complaints about cleaning and organisation of Newport bus station and a request to reinstate some bus stops near the bus station.
Just after 11am a large group of Medina Park residents entered the meeting, making the point that, with their new service, they had lost their direct bus to Newport and this was now the earliest they could arrive.
There were numerous complaints from them about the new arrangements and concern about the situation in bad weather. After much discussion, it was suggested a meeting needs to be arranged after the forthcoming elections to see if the situation can be improved.