Southern Vectis joined representatives from Isle of Wight Council recently to celebrate the Island’s Community Bus Partnership.
Established in 2011, the partnership provides essential bus services to areas across the Isle of Wight – using vehicles from Southern Vectis and volunteer drivers.
Southern Vectis’ general manager, Richard Tyldsley says:
“These services are absolutely vital to those who may otherwise find it difficult to travel across the island – with 93 percent of passengers on routes 22, 24 and 32 using concessionary passes.
“Every year 33,000 journeys are taken on these three services, so we know how important they are to residents in Lake, Shanklin, Yaverland, Cowes, Gurnard and Northwood.
“Southern Vectis provides buses for the routes and will continue to do so, thanks to support from the council – and of course from the drivers who volunteer. Without them, none of this would be possible. Our aim is to increase the Community Bus service to five days a week in the future, so we are actively seeking more of those who are willing to give up their time to drive the buses”.
Cllr Lora Peacey Wilcox, chair of the Isle of Wight Council adds:
“The Community Bus service is a hugely important resource for local people. Without it, many would be unable to go about their daily business. Even getting out-and-about to withdraw cash is a real challenge for some of our more vulnerable residents, and the number 32 route in particular – between Gurnard, Northwood and Cowes – provides an important link for those who were really struggling, following the closure of their Post Office.
“Even more than that, the bus service plays a key role in social inclusion here – connecting ‘people’ as well as towns The routes are very well thought out, and are an absolute lifeline – helping keep our sense of community alive.”
Cllr Ian Ward, cabinet member for transport at Isle of Wight Council, says:
“The Community Bus Partnership is an excellent example of different organisations working with volunteers to make a huge difference for those living within the local area.
“Without these buses and volunteer drivers, a significant number of vulnerable people would find it difficult to get out-and-about. It is vital for social inclusion that we all continue to support this vital initiative.”
For more information about becoming a volunteer driver for the Community Bus Partnership (training is provided), visit www.islandbuses.info.