UPDATED: The leader of the Isle of Wight Council is challenging the recent decision by Southern Vectis to reduce rural community bus services, as there has not been sufficient consultation with the council or local communities about the decision.
Councillor Dave Stewart is expecting the Island bus company to rethink this approach. Cllr Stewart is also the local member for Chale, Niton and Whitwell and discovered the decision to reduce the service of the Route 6 bus to winter timetable all year, following a recent parish council meeting.
No formal consultation has taken place with the Isle of Wight Council.
Cllr Stewart, said:
“The Isle of Wight Council is a significant customer of Southern Vectis and for them to treat both this council and local town and parish councils in this way is, as far as I am concerned, totally unacceptable.
“Local communities have pushed themselves hard to be able to afford to contribute towards community bus services because they know they are the lifeblood of our community transport.
“I am aware that the senior management at Southern Vectis has changed, but this is no reason for such a radical decision to be made without proper consultation with the local authority.”
Councillor Ian Ward, executive member for transport and infrastructure, will seek an early meeting with the new Southern Vectis Management to encourage them to reconsider this decision.
Cllr Ward said:
“There needs to be a proper and robust consultation about this before any decision is made, as well as full negotiation, before such decisions are made in the future.”
UPDATE THURSDAY – Richard Tyldsley, Southern Vectis general manager. has said:
“Our intention is to continue operating our Winter service throughout the whole year, as we have experienced virtually no change in customer numbers. The timetable has also been working well as far as reliability is concerned since our changes.
“We are proud of the work our team carries out, providing a comprehensive network of services across the island. And we are committed to continuing with the route 6 service.
“In order to do this, we continuously monitor the volume of passenger journeys on this route. Currently, customer numbers don’t allow us to provide an hourly bus because the same number of people are travelling on our two hourly timetable.
“When Isle of Wight Council took the decision to withdraw all funding for route 6 in late 2015, we reviewed the entire operation and retained all journeys that covered our direct operating costs.
“The current timetable is run entirely on a commercial basis – the first time in decades that a bus service for the rural communities we serve has been operated without local authority funding.
“We will continue to monitor customer numbers, and liaise with Isle of Wight Council, to provide the best possible service we are able to for customers along this route.”
Ed Wills, Southern Vectis operations director has said:
“We work in close partnership with the council and will continue to do so on the innovative community bus partnership which has helped to protect a number of other services and allows us to provide an extremely comprehensive network.”