ISLE of Wight bus company Southern Vectis is rock bottom when it comes to passenger satisfaction and value for money, according to new research released today (Wednesday).
Of 221 passengers surveyed by independent watchdog, Passenger Focus, 185 (82 per cent) said they were satisfied with the service — a nine per cent fall on last year and the lowest figure across the Go-Ahead group. The group average was 89 per cent.
The research found 67 (78 per cent) fare paying passengers and 116 (86 per cent) free pass holders were satisfied with their journeys, down eight per cent and 13 per cent, respectively, from 2011 and the lowest across the group.
For fare payers the group average was 86 per cent and for free pass holders it was 94 per cent.
Of the 120 passengers aged 60 or over, 104 (87 per cent) were satisfied. Last year the figure was 98 per cent.
When it came to value for the money, just 23 (27 per cent) out of 86 fare paying passengers were satisfied — a 2 per cent drop on last year — and 25 per cent below the group average.
Go-Ahead is one of the country’s largest bus operators and Passenger Focus worked with them to find out the views of passengers on 11 of the group’s bus companies outside of London.
Passengers were asked to rate services on both the journey experience on the bus and at the stop itself.
David Brown, group chief executive for Go-Ahead, said: "A major reason for us doing the survey is to find out where we can improve and then take steps to address those areas.
"Our bus companies are already planning a number of initiatives to deliver even better service."
*Andrew Wickham, managing director for Go Ahead Group’s bus and coach operations in the south including Southern Vectis, said that the findings of the survey were disappointing, but not completely unexpected given the current economic climate.
"Who will ever think a fare is fair? We have deliberately held back from a general fare increase on the Island since April 2010 and our freedom tickets were only increased in January this year, the first increase for several years.
"Even after the loss of the government's Bus Service Operators Grant from April 1, which increased our fuel bill by over £200,000 a year, we resisted a general fare increase.
"We are making every attempt to keep our operating costs as low as possible to support this policy and we are encouraging as many regular customers to take advantage of our best offers through our key card."
He added: "It’s never easy to run a successful bus operation, but the Island’s large percentage of free concessionary pass holders does reduce the opportunity for generally lower fares as the company is reimbursed with much less than a normal fare.
"We are unlike other transport operators such as an airline or a ferry company as we can’t sell drinks, food or anything else to contribute to the cost of running and re-investing in the business.
"I can only assure everyone that the team at Southern Vectis work hard to maintain and strive to improve the services we offer and above all thank the happy 82% who recognised this. We will listen to the 18% so to achieve a better rating next year."
Graphics by David Lowe. Data provided by Passenger Focus.