The annual cost of a ‘privilege’ bus seats has more than doubled for some Isle of Wight parents.
‘Privilege’ seats are for children who attend a school outside their catchment area, but do not travel on commercial bus routes. More than 500 children use this service.
Term fares rise by almost three times for some
The system for applying for bus seats was opened last week. However, the price of tickets has risen by 37% on the previous year, and now cost £130 a term.
Parents are also no longer able to purchase just a morning or an afternoon seat.
One parent, from Ventnor, said the cost of sending her two children to Medina College, Newport, by bus had risen from £285 to £780 a year.
No explanation for fare rise
Julie Hutchison, of Trinity Road, said she had hoped to buy afternoon tickets but, as this option was no longer available, she had to pay for a full term ticket.
“I chose Medina because, despite it being outside the catchment area, the art department is amazing and it suited my children a lot better.”
She said there was no explanation in the letter to parents as to why the price had gone up.
Cost more than Freedom Pass
Claire Flowers, of Hawthorn Meadows, East Cowes, said she had also gone from paying £45 a term to facing an annual bill of £780 for both their children to Carisbrooke College.
“It’s actually cheaper for us to drive them both to school, so we will be adding to the congestion around the high school.
“The tickets now cost the same as a Southern Vectis Freedom Pass, which covers more days, but a public bus wouldn’t actually take her direct to the school.”
IWC accused of ‘punishing parents’
Another Ryde parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said it felt like the council was ‘punishing parents’ who chose to send their children to a school outside their catchment area.
Brading: The “council don’t have to provide the service”
Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Paul Brading, said the council had cut four routes from the service this year, after looking at the contract with Southern Vectis.
Cllr Brading said:
“Parents who send their children to a school outside of the catchment area should have to pay. The council don’t have to provide the service.
“It’s an expensive contract with Southern Vectis.”
Brading: “I do accept it’s expensive”
Cllr Brading said the council was not profiting from the price increase.
“I do accept it’s expensive, but I do feel the price increase is justified.”
Green: IWC puts “burden of costs upon local families”
Isle of Wight Green Party spokesperson, Vix Lowthion, told OnTheWight,
“Yet again this council fails to encourage public transport use and puts the burden of costs upon local families. These are spare seats and we should be encouraging their use – not punishing parents for doing the right thing. IW Council must reverse this decision – and fast.”
“For many parents – particularly West and South Wight – due to no high school or over subscription, council buses are the only way to get to any high school and all schools are roughly equidistant away, regardless of choice. These families must not be penalised by this Conservative Council.”
13.05 – Added ‘for some’ to headline
15.23 Amended text within body to 37% increase rather than three times for some.
18.01: – Added comment by Vix Lowthion
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed