Speak up for West Wight services

Friday, September 25, 2009



From Tim Eldridge, Calbourne:       

I WAS saddened to read Marc Morgan Huws of Southern Vectis (SVOC) (CP, 11-09-09) resorting to a soundbite to claim West Wight services are the best for decades.

I am old enough to remember and young enough to have enjoyed the 5s 0d (25p) Rover and Runabout tickets of the sixties and was delighted with the introduction of the combined use of both train and bus on these weekly passes.

Parishioners recall the old services of the nos 12, 22, 27 and 29 routes which the current No.s 7 and 11 replace. I seem to recall the 16 service from Ryde to Alum Bay as well. These were hourly services I am told.

Public transport infers a public service which, although subject to commercial viability, stills requires a degree of social responsibility.

I have tried to conduct this campaign with a degree of objectivity and have not pointed the finger at SVOC alone. I am advised by the IW Bus Users Group the IW Council has consistently reduced the subsidy on concessionary fares to as low now as 37 per cent of the fare.

This still does not answer though why a bus service with four or six people from Cowes to Newport or vice versa is considered commercially viable on a six or seven-minute frequency whereas a double decker on route 7 with 20 to 30 passengers or more is not and so is cancelled.

I have worked with airlines for much of the last 30 years and I do understand the difficulties of scheduling and route profitability. I suggest Mr Morgan Huws try explaining to residents why they cannot get early-morning buses to doctors, dentist, vets, hospital, work, schools, colleges, ferries et al.

There is grave concern in West Wight and I would urge Southern Vectis to re-introduce these services prior to their review in December.

Finally, I would ask everyone affected by the new timetable to tell their ward councillor, their parish or town councillor or clerk. If you don’t speak up, no one will hear you.

From Don Vincent (Hon Sec, IW Bus Users’ Group), Lake, Sandown:

Concession cost: Marc Morgan-Huws, of Southern Vectis, told the audience at the bus users’ public meeting of the underlying problem affecting Island-wide bus service provision:

He said government conditions for concessionary free bus travel for the over 60s started with a reimbursement rate at 76 per cent, then went to 48 per cent and now between 37 per cent down to 31 per cent of each bus fare.

He told us this sliding scale was supposed to be a reflection of higher volumes of passenger numbers carried and additional services or capacity provided by Southern Vectis.

In among the 70-plus bus passengers at our meeting on Saturday were elected councillors Paul Fuller and Vanessa Churchman and our guest speaker Cllr Edward Giles, Cabinet member for Transport.

No council officers are now able to attend by order of the chief executive, Steve Beynon, in a futile effort to save £2.2 million.

Therefore we doubly praise Cllr Giles for attending and answering questions from the audience.

From Sally Fraser, East Cowes:

Competition needed: My daughter, 16, is supposed to start work at 8am on Saturday at the George Hotel in Yarmouth and because of the new timetable she now can’t start work until 9.30am, one-and-a-half hours late.

She stays at Wellow (grandparents) on a Friday night to make it easier to get to work (well, you would think so). We live in East Cowes.

Southern Vectis has the monopoly on the Island and want their cake and eat it.

If another bus company came along with earlier buses Southern Vectis would suddenly put on another bus route — which is exactly what they have done in the past, in Newport from the industrial estate.

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