BUSES SLASHED AMID SUBSIDIES ROW

By Richard Wright

Friday, February 8, 2008

 

THE EXTENT of Southern Vectis bus service cuts became clear this week from the company’s draft timetable.

Even if there is an eleventh-hour agreement with the IW Council over additional routes to be subsidised, it will not come in time to be included in the 2008 timetable that was this week at the printers.

If services are to be added, it would require a supplement to be printed, the bus company said.

Thirteen of the bus company’s 39 routes will be hit. This includes cutting early morning and after 7.25pm Newport-Shanklin-Ryde buses, all buses on the East Cowes to Ryde Route 4 after 8pm and early morning and evening services on the Route 7 Newport to West Wight service.

Early morning and late-night Newport to Sandown Route 8 buses are cut and Ryde to Bembridge Route 14s are reduced.

Route 16 Ryde to Seaview will not run before 8am or after 7pm and Routes 27 and 28, Cowes to Northwood services, are axed on Sundays.

The Route 39 Newport via Pan Estate to Shide service is withdrawn completely.

No meeting is scheduled to take place between the council and Southern Vectis until Tuesday, February 26. It will discuss subsidies for unprofitable routes and support for concessionary fares for the over-60s and students.

There is a gulf between what the council said it should pay and the amount claimed by Southern Vectis.

The bus company previously said it had been seeking meetings for weeks and its operations manager, Marc Morgan Huws, said on Wednesday: “The February 26 meeting is rather late in the day to resolve issues about services not included in our timetable, due to come into operation on March 15.”

The council said it was committed to bus travel but had to weigh up the value of supporting little-used services with taxpayers’ money.

The pressure group, the IW Bus Users’ Group, said it remained concerned about the effect of cuts on the public, in particular key staff who relied on buses for work.

• Southern Vectis is part of the giant Go Ahead transport group which, in the second half of the last year for which it declared operating profits, made £51.5 million.

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