Bus cuts maroon elderly

Friday, September 17, 2010


LETTERSFrom Dr David Wright, Ryde:

I have followed the correspondence about the cuts in bus services with interest.

As for the councillor who said services had to be cut as the money was more urgently needed elsewhere, he does realise the importance of communiciation and transport and the marooning and subsequent loneliness of older people in particular.

Nor does it take into account people attending night school or college or necessary visits to the hospital. Yet, at weekends, we have all night services to accommodate nightclubbers and revellers eg. Nos 1 , 3 and 9. And the public might be horrified to learn how much money is spent and wasted on council mobile phones.

I had the rare experience of a day on the buses. The No 7 from Newport via Shorwell to Freshwater used to have 17 outwards journeys per day from 7.42am to 11.10pm. Now as No 12 it has only four.

The new No 7 goes through Shalfleet, Ningwood ,Wellow and Thorley. For every 892 people in these four villages there are 2,129 in the Shorwell to Brook villages. For the 892 of the Shafleet to Thorley villages there are 1,978 in Niton and Whitwell alone.

I assume when the summer season, 2011, starts there will be more buses and so holidaymakers and nighclubbers are given priority. Bus drivers are angry at these changes. I asked a councillor what a stranded widow in Calbourne should do without transport. He replied angrily, 'move to Newport!’.

The No 6, Newport to Ventnor via Chillerton, Chale, Niton and Whitwell, has five outward journeys per day, half of what it was and yet the total population of these villages is far more that the total population of Shalfleet to Thorley. I do not include Carisbrooke and Gunville as it has its own No 38 service. And so I had a day on the buses. The 12 had a queue of 89 people waiting for it. The bus left 15 minutes late due to the driver dealing with all the customers.

It is asserted these cuts are due to the present government. They are not. It is due to the mismanagement of Blair and Brown who wasted 34 million on a new computer system which was scrapped and billions financing illegal wars in Kosovo, Iraq and Afganistan.

From Des Levett, Freshwater:

Losing money? Southern Vectis claims the reason it has just made savage cuts to its West Wight No 7 route is that it is losing money on the over-60s’ free travel. It says it is only reimbursed £1.22 for each of these Island journeys.

How many of these trips would be made if customers had to pay full fare (£3 or £4)? Not many I would guess.

It could well be the case that Southern Vectis is in fact not losing revenue at all or even making a small profit from pass-holders.

Better a bus full of over 60s than a handful of fare-paying passengers?

From Donna Milne, Brighstone:

Ready for change: Now is the perfect time for a new bus service to start up from Yarmouth to Newport on the old No 7 route via Brighstone. Bus companies are deregulated now and demand is great.

People can no longer get to the mainland for a day, go to parents’ evenings at school or visit family and friends in the hospital or hospice. We are in the absurd position of having five buses a day with the last bus from Newport at 5.40pm or Totland at 4.49pm.

We must change buses even to reach the Red Funnel ferry!

All this on a crowded and well-used bus service that was sometimes so full of passengers buses occasionally sailed past us in Brighstone, unable to squeeze one more passenger on. That happened in March this year — on an hourly service, not a five-a-day 'dis’-service.

It really would do Islanders some good to have a rival bus company setting up. While in Bournemouth this year we travelled on Trans-Dev buses whose fares were cheaper and buses plentiful. The rivalry meant that Go-Ahead buses offered bus rovers at £3.70 per day (adult fares) and the Trans-Dev buses offered a maximum £2.70 return on their Bournemouth-Poole route, a ten-mile journey. There’s lots of profit to be made from running a bus company. None of the buses were as crowded as the Yarmouth to Newport via Brighstone buses are.

Now the new timetable is in operation we feel dreadfully let down and most West Wighters would welcome the opportunity to switch loyalty to a new bus company. I understand Binstead and Calbourne and Havenstreet residents are also ready for a change.

From Sue Hill, Leicestershire:

Confused: Southern Vectis has now cut the important No 7 West Wight service. I remain perplexed by its action when other areas of the Island are very well served — Newport to Cowes, every eight minutes, Newport to Ryde, every ten minutes — but the bus company is a business and free to make its own decisions. Consequently, the IW Council stepped into the breach and created a new route for its Wightbus service to include Calbourne and Newbridge.

The new route means passengers have the choice of a trip to either Yarmouth or Newport once a day.

However, the Yarmouth bus leaves Calbourne at 9:30am and returns, after your doctor’s appointment or bit of shopping, over four hours later at 2pm!

If anyone wants to travel to Newport, the bus very 'conveniently’ alternates its route, either going via Newtown, Porchfield and Thorness Bay, if you’re lucky, or going an even longer way through Brighstone, Chillerton and Gatcombe, arriving in Newport over three-quarters-of-an-hour later.

Calbourne is actually only five miles from Newport and when Southern Vectis operated the route, the journey took 20 minutes.

I am sure that residents are thrilled to have a Wightbus, but they will need to be quite fit and hardy to undertake a journey.

That four-hour wait in Yarmouth is going to seem a bit grim in the middle of winter. Similarly, the 'round-the-Island’ bus trip to Newport won’t be for the faint-hearted or anyone disposed to travel sickness (not to mention a weak bladder)!

Is this really the best the IW Council can do for the people it represents?

A quick glance at the Wightbus timetable reveals at least seven bus routes operate on the East side of the Island…and on the West Wight? Just the new one described above.

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