Threat to Student Rider scheme

By Martin Neville

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

 

SOUTHERN Vectis has threatened to withdraw from the Student Rider scheme should the Isle of Wight Council’s concessionary fares reimbursement rate be significantly cut again next year.

The company is already appealing to the Secretary of State against the reduction to 48.05 per cent of each concessionary fare the council is now paying the firm. The original concession rate paid by the council was 76 per cent.

Should Southern Vectis win its appeal, the council will have to backdate payment to April 1 based on the rate determined by the Secretary of State.

Ruling Tories delegated authority to Stuart Love, the council’s director of environment and neighbourhoods, to negotiate next year’s concessionary and student rider reimbursement arrangements with Southern Vectis

But Cllr Tim Hunter-Henderson, cabinet member for transport, said the level of subsidy was likely to be even lower than the current 48.05 per cent, given the massive take up of concessionary bus travel, which has cost the council £4 million this year.

He said maintaining that rate did not reflect an increase in concessionary fare users by more than 40 per cent over the year.

“The bus operator has stated it will not continue to voluntarily participate in the council’s Student Rider scheme should the reimbursement rate be significantly reduced. The council can serve a compulsory participation notice on the operator to continue to participate in the scheme.

“As with the concessionary fare scheme, the bus operator has the right to appeal this notice and the outcome will be determined by the Secretary of State.”

Cllr Hunter-Henderson told cabinet its reimbursement rates were based on Department of Transport’s own formula, putting the authority in good stead in any appeal.

Ruling Tories also agreed to continue to support free travel for eligible Islanders during peak hours on the Isle of Wight.

Reporter: martinn@iwcpmail.co.uk

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