BUS fares have been increased by Southern Vectis for the second time in four months, with tickets for short journeys costing 33 per cent more than in January.
The IW Council’s decision to cut its concessionary fares subsidy from 76 per cent to 48 per cent from April 1, plus the rising costs of fuel, have been blamed for the rise by the bus firm.
Operations manager Marc Morgan Huws said the company could not guarantee these latest fare rises would be the last of 2008.
“We don’t want fares to rise again, in fact, we didn’t want fares to rise this time,” he said. “But we are in uncertain times. Fuel prices are still going up. They are 50 per cent up on this time last year.”
Mr Morgan Huws said the company would get only 48 per cent of each fare an over-60 would have paid before the concessionary scheme began.
The rises in single fares vary from ten pence to 50p, with the largest increase being for the shortest journey of £1.50 to £2, an increase of 33 per cent.
There is a new seven-day family rover ticket for £40 and the Cowes park-and-ride to the Red Jet is £2 return per person. All other rover tickets are frozen.
Andrew Wickham, operations director for Southern Vectis, said the company did not blame the council for the cut in fare subsidy, rather the Department for Transport, which controlled the scheme. He said Southern Vectis would be appealing to the department.
“What saddens us is we have made great strides in increasing the number of people using the buses but we have had to increase our fares,” he said.
And passengers on the Cowes floating bridge have also seen their fares rise.
Individual single fares have risen by ten pence each, while the price of a book of tickets for the disabled has gone up from £7 to £10, while the car and van tickets rose from £14.50 to £17.50.
Stuart Love, director of environment and neighbourhoods, said the fare rises were the first since 2006 and reflect increases in operational char-ges, including fuel costs.
“However, these books still offer tremendous value for money for the motorists,” he said.
STUDENTS DO NOT LIKE THE PRICE HIKE
YOUNG people have spoken out against the 100 per cent hike in the cost of Student Rider bus tickets.
Members of the IW Youth Council discussed the issue at their meeting on Tuesday.
Youth councillors criticised the sudden leap in the price of the tickets and a lack of information about the change, which came into effect on April 1.
They agreed to call for the increase to be limited to 70p, in line with other recent fare rises.
Operations manager for Southern Vectis Marc Morgan Huws said the increase was due to a change in the IW Council subsidy for the scheme.
Youth council members complained they had not been properly consulted on the decision and called for a meeting between themselves, County Hall and Southern Vectis.
Michelle Hatch, 41, of Alverstone Road, Whippingham, has three children who travel to Bishop Lovett Middle School by bus. She said the change would mean it would cost her £30 a week to send her children to school.
“The council has been encouraging us to make the most of public transport.
“This takes away the freedom of choice parents are supposed to have. You only have freedom of choice if you can afford the bus fare to send your children to the school you choose,” said Mrs Hatch.
She criticised the lack of notice and said: “I only found out when one of my children asked me for extra money for the bus.”