PREDICTIONS that people will be all but marooned in their villages by cuts have been made by a bus watchdog.
The Isle of Wight Bus Users’ Group meets tomorrow (Saturday) in Newport to discuss swingeing service cuts to be brought in as a result of subsidy reductions, which the Isle of Wight Council says have been forced on it by government.
The council this week said committing £550,000 for a year from September 4 would preserve mainly "lifeline" services for smaller villages and communities.
"The Bus Users’ Group is disappointed at these service reductions, which will make travel by public transport a less attractive option for many people and an impossibility for some, both residents and tourists," said users’ group deputy chairman Stuart George.
"We believe it will increase traffic congestion and pressure on parking, particularly in Newport.
"We have already heard that one lady is considering backing out of an almost completed house purchase in one of the villages with a much reduced service," he said. Southern Vectis rural bus services are severely reduced, but routes not axed completely.
Evening and weekend services are badly hit, with a new service between Newport and Totland via Shorwell and Brighstone running only every two hours, with a three-hour lunchtime gap and no evening service.
The Service 6 Newport to Ventnor will only run every two hours with a three-hour lunchtime gap and several other buses will run hourly instead of half hourly and not evenings or weekends.
Wightbus will axe the Shanklin to St Lawrence Raillink, replacing it with two buses a day and its Cowes to Newport number 30 bus will be cancelled from September 5.
Many of its other services will have reduced frequencies.
Brighstone Parish Council chairman Cllr Elizabeth Bright said: "The last bus will leave Brighstone at 4.54pm and Newport at 5.40pm.
"Brighstone has a high elderly population, many without transport. The cutbacks will cause problems for young people for entertainment and college courses, for commuters, for after-school activities, for walkers and visitors.
"This is a retrograde step and not in keeping with the IW Council’s Eco-Island strategy.
"It will cause an increase in vehicle usage, causing more traffic congestion in Newport and parking problems in Brighstone.
She added: "Petitions have been put in local outlets."
This is a list of the cuts in Southern Vectis and Wightbus services that will be put in place from the start of the winter timetable on September 5.
It was compiled by the watchdog Isle of Wight Bus Users’ Group which stages a members' meeting to discuss the changes at Southern Vectis Sport and Social Club in Newport tomorrow (Saturday). The meeting starts at 11am.
Service 2 - Withdrawn between Sandown & Ryde, runs via Merstone instead of Rookley. Evening service withdrawn.
Service 3 - Runs via Rookley instead of Merstone.
Service 6 - Every 2 hours, but with a 3 hour gap at lunchtime. First journey 0748 from Whitwell, last journey from Newport at 1745 will terminate at Whitwell. All other journeys to/from Ventnor.
Service 7 - Re-routed to run hourly. Newport - Carisbrooke - Gunville - Shalfleet - Wellow - Thorley - Yarmouth - Freshwater - Totland - Alum Bay. Service between Carisbrooke & Wellow via Calbourne & Newbridge withdrawn. Service between Carisbrooke & Totland via Shorwell & Brighstone re-numbered 12.
Service 8 - All journeys via Tesco & Oakfield withdrawn. Service to be hourly instead of half-hourly.
Service 12 - New service to replace existing service 7 between Newport & Totland via Brighstone & Freshwater Bay. Every 2 hours, but with a 3 hour lunchtime gap. First bus starts from Brook at 0740, last journey from Newport at 1740 terminates at Brook. No evening service.
Service 37 - As present service, but last journey finishes earlier at 1440.
Service 38 - Evening service withdrawn - last bus from Newport at 1805.
New East Cowes service to run via Hefford Road & Hawthorn Meadow with some journeys to/from Folly Inn and a few to/from Newport. No service number at present.
Southern Vectis will run the whole school lift, which will no longer be available to the general public.
All school journeys withdrawn.
Services 16/29/30 withdrawn.
Service 22 - Reduced times of operation. No Saturday service.
Service 24 - Minor alterations. Will run via Palmerston Road in Shanklin.
Service 31 - Extended so that 2 journeys in each direction will serve St Lawrence - 0940/1120 from St Lawrence, 1050/1232 from Ventnor. Journeys to St Lawrence via Botanic Gardens, from St Lawrence via Castle Close.
Service 32 - Reduced service. No Saturday service.
Service 33 - Reduced to 4 through journeys, with 2 additional short journeys to Haylands which will continue to Havenstreet, if requested before Haylands.
Service 35 - Runs Tuesdays & Thursdays only.
Ventnor Dial-a-Bus - Runs Wednesdays instead of Fridays.