Recent Minutes

Minutes of The Isle of Wight Bus and Rail Users Group Public Meeting held on the 13th January 2024 at Newport Methodist Church, Quay Street, Newport.

On the platform were:

IWBRUG Executive members – Stuart George (SG), and James Nevell (JN).

Southern Vectis: Richard Tyldesley, General Manager (RT)

Island Line/South Western Railway: Mark Dunn (MD)

Also attending were IWBRUG Executive members Dina Jung (DJ), Robert May (RM) and Rodney Archer (RA).

 29 members of the public attended in person.

 

The meeting was opened by SG at 11:00.

 

Apologies were received from Isle of Wight Council (IWC): Stewart Chandler, Highways and Transport Client Manager.

 

 

Chairman’s opening address SG

A welcome to this IWBRUG Public Meeting. These are normally held twice a year. This meeting is open to everyone who uses buses or trains on the Island.

The IWBRUG represents public transport users on the Island. We meet Southern Vectis, Island Line, and the IW Council on a regular basis and, although we don't have any legal powers, we do seek to influence operators and the Council in the interests of passengers.

Details of our group and membership are available here. There is no obligation to join the group although the more members we have, the greater our influence. It costs £5 to join the group and, if you would like to, you're invited to talk to any of our committee members. 

  1. Introductions to the representatives of IWBRUG, Southern Vectis and Island Line. The format of the meeting is the speakers will outline their news and they should not be interrupted. After they've all spoken, they will be available for questions and comments.

 

Southern Vectis update: Richard Tyldesley

  1. Passenger numbers have now recovered to around 2019 levels after the lifting of Covid travel restrictions. The number of passengers travelling for leisure purposes is now higher than in 2019 although the numbers of passengers with English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) passes is now 85-90% of 2019 levels. The £2 fare cap scheme funded by the Government has helped with the recovery by reducing travel costs. The rates of patronage recovery vary between bus routes but overall, the trend is positive.

 

  1. Bus service delivery (reliability and punctuality) is now good. The old “red” (ex-London) buses, which had reliability issues have now been withdrawn. However, road closures are causing diversions in several locations currently, leading to some passengers having longer walking distances to reach a stop.

 

  1. Seven new double deck buses have recently been delivered and are now in use on route 1 Newport – Cowes. They have been well received by passengers.

 

  1. Some mid-life double deck buses, with exhaust emissions to Euro 6 standard, may be transferred to the Island in summer 2024 to replace vehicle on routes 7 and 12 Newport – Alum Bay, which only have Euro 5 standard exhaust controls.

 

  1. Southern Vectis has partnered with the IWC to submit a bid for Zero Emission Bus Regional Area route 2 (ZEBRA2) funding to the Department for Transport (DfT). This would secure the delivery of 23 battery-electric double deck buses for use on routes 1 Newport – Cowes, 5 Newport – East Cowes, and 9 Newport – Ryde, together with battery charging equipment and suitable electricity grid connections. If successful, this would be delivered in 2025.

 

  1. The summer 2024 bus timetable will have no major changes compared with 2023. The frequency on route 5 Newport – East Cowes could be increased from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes. This would be funded by the IWC’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) funds received from the DfT. However, the IWC have yet to confirm this funding allocation, but discussions are continuing.

 

  1. The present diversion of route 3 between Shanklin – Ventnor via Wroxall may continue for the medium term depending on the ground conditions under Leeson Road.

 

  1. Bus ticket machines are to be upgraded from Windows Tablet to Android. This should speed up transactions and therefore reduce passenger boarding and bus stop dwell times.

 

  1. The DfT £2 fare cap scheme is currently scheduled to run until the end of 2024. However, Go South Coast (of which Southern Vectis is a part) have only agreed to participate until the end of June 2024. Subject to the DfT reimbursement levels being satisfactory, it is likely that Southern Vectis will participate until the end of 2024. A General Election is likely to be held in 2024. Subsequent Government policy towards the scheme is not yet clear but after December 2024 it could be increased to £2.50 or discontinued.

 

  1. The £2 fare cap scheme has resulted in a big shift to the use of “tap-on tap-off” for fare payment. The ticket range is now being reviewed.

 

Island Line update: Mark Dunn

  1. 2023 was a challenging year with a range of issues affecting service delivery.

 

  1. Storms in October 2023 caused flooding with the depot under 6’ of water and 14’ in the tunnel. On Ryde Pier the conductor rail and walkways were damaged. Further storms affected the line in December 2023 although some pre-emptive measures were taken to protect depot equipment.

 

  1. Only 1 train (out if 5) is now serviceable. Two trains had their on-board equipment damaged by flooding and are awaiting spare parts. The other train has developed an electrical fault. However, repairs are in progress and more trains should be available for service within the next 2 weeks.

 

  1. Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) is being installed at the stations currently without it. Posts and RSJs have been installed at Brading and Sandown stations. It will be fully commissioned in February 2024.

 

  1. At Pig Leg Crossing, between Ryde St John’s Road and Smallbrook Junction, a signal alarm to warn pedestrians of approaching trains has been provided. Installation was delayed by the need to consider the findings of an enquiry into an incident involving a similar system in Norfolk. This has enabled the line speed restriction to be removed in the southbound (down) direction saving trains 30 seconds.

 

  1. Timetable development discussions with the DfT are continuing. Details should be published in the next 4 weeks. The target for introduction is Easter 2024. The aims are to improve rail-ferry connections at Ryde Pier Head and make the timetable more robust.

 

  1. Work on Ryde Esplanade station is continuing as part of the Ryde Interchange project. The heritage waiting room is being restored with former church pews being refurbished for use as seats and should open at the end of February 2024. The pier walkway is being extended into the station and should open in February. The tower remains to be completed and the café and retail unit are also to be finished. The target for completion of these is summer 2024.

 

Questions and comments

 

  1. Andrew Turner asked if there had been any progress in investigating whether inbound services to Newport could stop on South Street or Church Litten to improve access to trip attractions such as the multiplex cinema and Marks & Spencer supermarket.

 

Richard Tyldesley replied that this possibility has been discussed with the IWC and no stop locations have been identified yet. Also adding stops would increase journey times for passengers travelling to the bus station. However, this possibility will be pursued with the IWC.

 

 

  1. Phil Jelly asked if live train departure boards could be provided in a suitable location at Ryde Pier Head for viewing by passengers alighting from the ferry. Also, at Ryde St John’s Road, as there is no level access to platform 2, could all trains be diverted to use platform 1?

 

Mark Dunn replied that signage and information provision at Ryde Pier Head is to be reviewed as the ferry-train walking route has been made longer. At Ryde St John’s Road an application to the DfT’s Access for All fund to provide a fully accessible crossing to platform 2 has been rejected and there will be less funding available next year. Maintenance work on the footbridge is to be undertaken and other options for improving access will be considered. However, there are no plans for single track working as this would impede access to/from the depot.

 

  

  1. Simon Perry asked for details of the proposed battery-electric bus charging infrastructure, which would be funded if the ZEBRA2 bid is successful.

 

Richard Tyldesley replied that the charging infrastructure would be installed at Nelson Road depot (Newport) and would be able to charge at 175-200 kW per hour. The electricity grid is complicated but based on the Go-Ahead Group’s experience in London, a connection can be provided, and sufficient power is available. However, if more battery-electric buses were to be operated in future, another depot site would be needed. Hydrogen powered buses may be an option for other Island bus routes in future.

 

  1. Diana Coyners representing Ryde Town Council (RTC) and the IW Association of Local Councils.

 

  1. Next Stop Announcements (NSAs) have ceased to be provided on many buses. When will it be reinstated?

Richard Tyldesley replied that there have been issues with 3G telecommunications. An upgrade to 4G should be completed in the next 2 weeks enabling NSAs to be reintroduced. SV are working towards fitting NSA equipment to all of its fleet.

 

  1. Passengers travelling from Ryde to St Mary’s Hospital have to pay 2 x £2 fares in each direction because a change of route is involved. Before the £2 fare was introduced a single through fare was provided – could this be made available?

Richard Tyldesley replied that the £2 fare cap does not cover transfer fares. The price of transfer fares should be the same as before the cap was introduced.

 

  1. Buses on routes 2,3,8 and 37 departing from Ryde Interchange are delayed by traffic signals before reaching George Street, eroding the time saving benefits gained from avoiding the double-run along the Esplanade. Could this issue be addressed?

Richard Tyldesley replied that he would investigate this with the IWC.

 

  1. Ryde Interchange toilets: RTC has agreed to clean them, but not undertake maintenance because it does not own the facilities.

Mark Dunn replied that the toilets at Ryde Esplanade station were originally for rail passengers only. However, the IWC wanted toilets to be available up to 23:30 – after rail services have finished. The Western Gardens toilets were subject to vandalism damage. SWR/Network Rail did not want to incur the additional costs of security, locking, maintenance and repair of damage. No agreement between SWR/IWC/RTC has been reached, so the toilets will not reopen, but discussions are continuing.

 

 

  1. Rodney Archer stated that climate change is affecting all people and there is an imperative to reduce carbon emissions, particularly from transport activities. In Luxembourg public transport is free of charge to passengers to help attract car users. Could this approach be introduced on the IW?

Richard Tyldesley replied that a large annual subsidy would be needed to make all public transport free. DJ indicated that other Government funds could be used.

 

  1. Stephen Parkes, Councillor on Sandown/Shanklin town council said that Bob Seely MP had promised to secure Government funding to extend the Island Line to Ventnor. Following the recent landslip Ventnor could be isolated as double deck buses may have difficulties passing each other on Ocean View Road. Also, electric vehicles are not suitable for use on the IW due to insufficient power availability.

 

  1. Sarah Innes

 

  1. The route 9 connection with the last evening car ferry arrival at Fishbourne Harbour (23:59 ferry from Portsmouth arriving at 00:44) is not always made. Could the bus driver be instructed to wait until passengers have arrived if the ferry is late arriving?

Richard Tyldesley replied that he would investigate although the bus is required to continue to another duty after arriving in Ryde.

 

  1. Notices at Ryde town centre tops advertising bus diversions due to road works and alternative stops have been removed by vandals and some passengers are waiting unaware that buses are not coming.

Richard Tyldesley replied that he would investigate.

 

  1. Debbie Frost from Wroxall reported much quicker travel times from Wroxall – Shanklin (10 minutes) following the diversion of route 3 services away from the coastal road. Could a permanent direct Wroxall – Shanklin service be continued even if/when the coastal road is reopened?

Richard Tyldesley replied that this would be investigated, but there are other passengers to be considered.

 

  1. Don Cruick asked if additional resources (buses and drivers) are needed to operate route 3 services with the Shanklin – Ventnor diversion? Also, are the newer buses to be cascaded to routes 7 and 12 coming from the Go South Coast fleet?

Richard Tyldesley replied that no additional resources are required to maintain route 3 services. The buses expected to be cascaded are from Go South Coast and are currently being used to operate route X3 Bournemouth – Salisbury.

 

  1. Iris (?) from Ryde and Don Vincent complained that the seats in the new Ryde Bus Station shelters are too high and uncomfortable.

Richard Tyldesley replied that the IWC were going to investigate this issue. Diana Conyers reported that RTC has raised this with the IWC.

Action: report to Stewart Chandler.

 

  1. Simon (?) asked how long the Vivarail trains now in service on the Island Line would remain serviceable for now that Vivarail has ceased to trade?

Mark Dunn replied that the First Group, parent company of SWR, has bought some of the stock for use as spares for SWR. 4 trains are at SWR’s Strawberry Hill depot to provide spare parts for Island Line trains. Although Vivarail is now defunct this will have no impact on the longevity of Island Line trains.

 

Stuart George closed the meeting at 12:25.

 

 

 

 

I.W. Bus & Rail Users’ Group

 

MINUTES of a meeting held on Saturday 25th November 2023 at 11.15am in the Methodist Church Small Hall.

 

Present: Stuart George (Chairman), Robert May (Vice-Chairman), John Yunnie (Membership Secretary & Treasurer, Dina Jung, Rodney Archer (Executive Members) plus 10 members.

 

5 Apologies received including the Secretary.

 

Chairman’s Report.

 

Island Line. Mark Dunn was expected to have had a discussion regarding the new proposed timetable, but to date nothing had been heard. There would be no closures on the pier before Christmas, but a long closure would be expected in the new year (probably summer or next winter).

 

Southern Vectis. Six of the seven new buses for route 1 had arrived, but the seventh had had to return to the factory having experienced an accident on delivery. Some of the new ones had early problems but these had now been rectified. In the meantime a few of the ex-London red vehicles were still in service.

 

Change of Meetings Venue . It has proved to be unsustainable with the level of current membership to continue at the present venue. The AGM in February 2024 would remain as at present, but for the March meeting we would move to Utilita in the High Street to see if that would be a good venue for the future meetings. The alternative choice would be to meet less frequently in the present venue (possibly every three months)

 

Public Meeting - will be on Saturday 13th January 2024 at 11.00am.in the main Church . Posters are available now, and more can be sent if required.

 

Committee Members Reports. There appeared to be some confusion regarding a new leaflet for the tap-on/tap-off facility. The Chairman would take the matter to Richard Tyldsley for an answer. The possibility for return ticketing was also mentioned.

 

Members Questions and Comments. a) A question was asked about the destination boards for all rail stations. Nothing more had been mentioned to date.

 

b) Asked about step free access at all stations. The response was that it would cost too much to implement. It was suggested this matter be taken to the next public meeting for further discussion.

 

c) A franchise for the provision of a cafe at the Esplanade had been granted to Graces’ Bakery.

 

d) Asked about the problems with the proposed new toilets and the cleaning of them at the Esplanade, there was a problem between SWR, Ryde Town Council and IW Council as no one wanted the responsibility.

 

e) The committee were thanked for all their work during the year. This was endorsed by general consent of all present

 

Next Meeting – noted above – Saturday 13th January 2024 at 11.00am in the church main building.

 

The meeting closed at 12.05pm.

 

 

 

 

 

IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 23rd SEPTEMBER 2023

Minutes of the meeting held at the Methodist Church Hall, Newport.

In attendance: the following Executive members – Stuart George (SG), Robert May (RM), James Nevell (JN), and Rodney Archer (RA) plus 15 ordinary members.

Apologies from Dina Jung and John Yunnie.

Meeting opened at 11:15.

 

  1. Chairman’s Report SG

The Island Line manager, Mark Dunn, has indicated that suggestions for reducing the train travel time from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin and running all trains to Ryde Pier Head, made at an Island Line staff meeting on 14th August, have been considered. Some of the options have been selected and will be presented to the Department for Transport (DfT) for agreement and possible delivery.

It is hoped that the line speed restrictions between Ryde St John Road and Smallbrook Junction could be eased by December.

Ryde Pier will be closed to trains again from 7th October for further structural renewal works. The expected duration of these is not known.

The winter Southern Vectis (SV) bus timetable includes new additional evening services on routes 6 (Newport – Niton – Ventnor) and 12 (Newport – Brighstone – Alum Bay) on Mondays – Saturdays, funded by the IW Council (IWC). The original intention was to run these on Fridays and Saturdays only, but additional funds have been found to support services on all weekdays.

SV bus routes 2 (Newport – Shanklin – Ryde) and 3 (Newport – Ventnor – Ryde) will revert to winter schedules, reducing their journey times by 15 minutes.

The 7-day paper bus tickets are to be withdrawn from sale due to fraud.

The IWBRUG has received a letter from the IW MP Bob Seely regarding the proposed rail ticket office closures. This letter, which acknowledges our concerns about this issue, will be posted on the IWBRUG website.


Secretary’s Report

Island Line trains have been running a normal service more often recently, although ticket checks remain sporadic.

The summer bus timetable is now in its last few weeks of operation. There are few road closures and/or works affecting bus routes currently.

Delivery of the 7 new double deck buses ordered by SV has been delayed due to problems at the manufacturer. However, eight SV double deck buses have been transferred away to Southampton and Poole, within Go South Coast operation. As a stop-gap measure, seven ex Go Ahead London double decker have been transferred to SV, until the new buses arrive. However, these buses cannot be used on routes 2 and 3 because they are too high to fit under the railway bridge at Moreton Common. Also, these buses still display Transport for London advertisements in their saloons. These include a notice that “kids under 11 travel free” (not true on the IW) which could confuse passengers.

Action: SG to raise with SV.

The Secretary attended, in a personal capacity, a Wightlink Customer Forum meeting at Fishbourne on 20th September. Issues regarding train-ferry connections at Ryde Pier Head and Portsmouth Harbour were discussed. The Wightlink Commercial Director disclosed that rail tickets are no longer sold at Wightlink ticket offices because South Western Railway have removed the machines, claiming low usage during/after the pandemic. The possibilities of providing better signage at Ryde Pier Head directing ferry passengers to the trains and for offering a combined ferry/bus family ticket to encourage visitors were raised.


Members’ questions

Sarah Innes (SI) reported that the sporadic train ticket checks (see above) have resulted from staff training and machine availability issues.

Diana Conyers (DC) reported that some train passengers had complained about leaking carriage roofs.

DC had also received reports that buses normally used for school services were also being used on normal services. Some of these vehicles have insufficient space for wheelchairs/pushchairs. SI also reported that these vehicles do not have stop buttons upstairs, possibly raising safety issues. RM reported that other Go Ahead operators’ buses had stop buttons next to every seat.

Action: SG to raise with SV.

Phil Jelly (PJ) reported that no rail replacement buses will be provided during engineering works between Havant and Brighton. Rail tickets will not be valid on parallel bus routes. Also, an online rail journey planner produced a very long (15 hour) and useless route plan from Portsmouth to Brighton. He noted that ticket office would almost certainly not have recommended this to passengers.

DC had been asked (possibly by a Ryde resident) if the IWBRUG could write to the IW MP to ask if the DfT fare cap, due to rise to £2.50 from November, could be kept at £2 on the IW. The justification would be that IW residents have average incomes below that of England and are therefore more in need of lower fares. However, such an approach was not supported at this stage. Also, SV/Go Ahead have not yet agreed to participate in the scheme from November. This decision will depend on the level of subsidy provided.

Action: SG to raise with SV.

DC reported issues arising with the Ryde Interchange project. Works on the rail station have yet to be completed. Network Rail (landlord) and South Western Rail (tenant) have not agreed to the part removal of a wall to give direct access to the new pier walkway. Although the new toilets have been installed, agreement has not been reached on who should clean and maintain them – which is delaying their opening. The previous lavatories were cleaned but not maintained by Ryde Town Council, following the IWC’s decision to cease providing these facilities. The Project Manager is now Peter Hayward.

Action: SG to enquire to IWC about project progress.

PJ informed the meeting that the IW Bus and Coach Museum in Ryde will be holding a “WightRider” bus running day on 14th – 15th October. Vintage bus rides on non-SV routes will be provided. Programmes can be purchased at the museum.

 

Meeting closed at 12:15. Next members meeting on 28th October at 11:15 at Newport Methodist Church.

 

IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 26th AUGUST 2023

Minutes of the meeting held at the Methodist Church Hall, Newport.

In attendance: the following Executive members – Stuart George (SG), Dina Jung (DJ), James Nevell (JN), and Rodney Archer (RA) plus 11 ordinary members and 2 members online via Zoom.

Apologies from Robert May, John Yunnie, Don McCririck and Fintan Jemmett.

Meeting opened at 11:15.

 

  1. Chairman’s Report SG

The Island Line manager, Mark Dunn, held an internal staff meeting to discuss possible ways of achieving a 30-minute interval train service from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin, on 14th August. No update has been received by IWBRUG.

There has been no update from Southern Vectis (DV) about the proposed additional services on routes 6, 12 and 31 that were to be funded by the Government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) grant to the IW Council.

 

  1. Secretary’s Report (JN)

The summer bus timetable is running mostly satisfactorily with occasional disruption due to road works. Bus patronage continues to recover from the Covid pandemic with passenger numbers in July around 95% of 2019 levels, compared with around 85% in January. Fare paying passenger numbers now exceed those at the same period in 2019, although the numbers of ENCTS passholders travelling have been the slowest to recover.

Growth in the numbers of fare paying passengers has been greatly assisted by the £2 fare cap, which is funded by the Government through the Department for Transport and delivers significant savings for most journeys. This scheme is due to change to a £2.5 fare cap from October, but SV have yet to confirm their continued participation in the scheme due to concerns about DfT subsidy levels.

The road between Compton Bay and Freshwater Bay is likely to become impassable soon due to continued cliff erosion. This is likely to result in the diversion of route 12 and the Island Coaster onto an inland route around this section.

Island line services have been running through to Ryde Pier Head again. However, the second train from Ryde Esplanade to Shanklin, has been cancelled on occasions recently for several reasons. Anecdotally, rail passenger numbers seem to be recovering although they are fewer than in pre-Covid summers. The numbers of visitors arriving by rail has been depressed this year by rail strikes affecting services on the mainland most weekends during the school summer holidays. Revenue collection and ticket inspection by guards is sporadic.


Members’ questions

Sarah Innes (SI) asked if an additional bus stop could be provided on Ryde Esplanade in the vicinity of the Hotel Ryde Castle, to better serve the Eastern Gardens area.

Action: SG to raise with SV/IWC.

 

SI asked if a regular bus service could be provided on Ryde Esplanade east of the Hotel Ryde Castle roundabout to East Hill Road. Possibilities include an extension of route 37, although this could affect its service to the Binstead area. Possible options could be considered by the IWC for funding through future BSIP grants.

Action: SG to consult IWBRUG members on possible options and could raise with SV/IWC.


SI asked about improved pedestrian access to Havenstreet station (IW Steam Railway centre) from the village. However, as this is a heritage centre, access issues are not within IWBRUG’s remit .

 

Phil Jelly asked if IWBRUG could issue press releases following each public meeting to publicise our work.

Action: EC to discuss at next committee meeting.

 

There is still time to respond to the Transport Focus rail ticket office consultation. Also, there is an online Parliamentary Petition open until 18th October.

 

SI asked if a poster could be used to publicise the ENCTS, disabled travel passes, New Islander cards and the Island Rail pass, in the rail and bus stations.

Action: SG to raise with SV and Island Line.

 

Don Vincent (DV) criticised the SV press release and IW County Press article about the forthcoming ticket price increases as too rambling and slightly confusing.

 

DV asked when the SV winter timetable will start. SG replied around 1st October.


Meeting closed 12:00.

Next members’ meeting 23rd September at 11:15 at Newport Methodist Church.

 

 

IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 27th MAY 2023

 

Minutes of the meeting held at the Methodist Church Hall, Newport.

 

In attendance: the following Executive members – Stuart George (SG), Dina Jung (DJ), James Nevell (JN), Robert May (RM) and Rodney Archer (RA) plus 11 ordinary members and 2 members online via Zoom.

 

Apologies from John Yunnie, Don McCririck, Fintan Jemmett and Mary Ward.

 

Meeting opened at 11:17.

 

  1. Chairman’s Report SG

 

Sadly, Mavis Bishop, former member of the IWBRUG, died on 9th May.

 

Island Line. The present timetable is scheduled to run until 29th May. From 30th May to 5th June, the service will run from Ryde St John’s Road to Shanklin only to enable track renewals work. From 6th – 9th June the line will be closed for crew training and will reopen throughout (including Ryde Pier Head) on 10th June. However, it is possible that this schedule could be delayed. Ian Ward had enquired about this to Network Rail and was informed that more corrosion had been discovered on the pier than was expected, requiring more extensive repairs.

 

Subsequently, on 1st June, Network Rail announced that the reopening of Ryde Pier to trains would be postponed until Monday 10th July, due to more extensive corrosion than expected and a need to obtain new components for part of the structure. A further closure of Ryde Pier to trains will be needed in October to complete the work.

 

The bus stop serving the West Wight Alpacas centre in the westbound direction is difficult to access. We have discussed this with Richard Tyldesley, manager of Southern Vectis (SV), who has asked the IW Council (IWC) to investigate the possible relocation of the stop to a more accessible position.

 

At the new Ryde bus station, the seats inside the shelters are too high and narrow to sit on. Richard Tyldesley (RT) of SV is to raise this with the Isle of Wight Council (IWC).

 

From the summer timetable, starting Sunday 28th May, the night bus service numbers will have a prefix “N”. Only adult fares will be available on these services.

 

The SV printed summer timetable now includes the FYT bus services and Ventnor town route 31.

 

From the winter timetable new late services are planned to be provided on routes 6 (Newport – Ventnor) and 12 (Newport – Totland). These services are planned to depart from Newport at around 22:00. Revenue support funding is to be provided by the IWC, which will consult on this proposal.

 

IWC may also fund service enhancements to Ventnor town route 31.

 

The train operator Govia Thameslink Railway/Southern Railway is proposing major changes to the West Coastway passenger services, covering the Portsmouth/Southampton – Gatwick Airport/Brighton route from May 2024. The future service will be:

 

  • 2 trains/hour Southampton – Brighton; and

  • 2 trains/hour Portsmouth Harbour – London Victoria.

 

Direct services from Portsmouth to Brighton and Littlehampton will be withdrawn.

 

  1. Secretary’s Report (JN)

 

On 17th May the Government announced that the £2 fare cap scheme will be extended to run until 31st October, to help passengers with the cost of living. It will then be followed by a cap of £2.50 which will run until 30th November 2024. This is part of a £300m scheme to support bus services in England outside London until 2025.

 

On 23rd May the Government announced Bus Service Improvement Plan + (BSIP+) funding for local transport authorities in England outside London. These are mostly authorities that did not receive first round BSIP funding. The IWC received £ 290,025 for funding improvements to bus services in 2023/24.

 

Diversions due to road works are still affecting some main routes. Closure of Copse Lane, Freshwater, is causing a long diversion on route 7. However, the recent closure of Lake Hill to northbound traffic, necessitating a long diversion on routes 2, 3 and 8 is now finished.

 

Ryde bus station (interchange) is now partially complete with buses now using the stops. However, the “cut-through” which will allow departing route 2, 3, 8 and 37 services to access George Street directly is not yet finished. Refurbishment of the rail station, now managed by the IWC, is also in progress. Phil Jelly reported that buses on route 9 are having difficulties reaching their stands when they become “bunched” en-route.

 

 

 

Members questions

 

Robert May reported that the seasonal bus services restart today. However, the timetable boards at some stops in the Shanklin area are still displaying notices that all services are “finished for the 2022 season.” This situation will be monitored and raised with SV if not resolved promptly.

 

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove visited the IW on 24th – 25th May as part of the “Islands Forum” meeting, involving representatives from 9 other UK islands, in Shanklin. Issues concerning IW ferry services were raised during the conference. Don Vincent (DV) highlighted the history of Government involvement in the ferry services. In 1948 the Government nationalised the Southern Railway’s ferry operations. In 1984 these services were privatised. Subsequently issues concerning fares and service levels have arisen, particularly in recent years around the Ryde Pier – Portsmouth Harbour (Fastcat) passenger ferry. This ferry route connects two rail stations and is an important part of the IW public transport network. DV asked about possible Government action to effect improvements. However, the possibilities are currently limited, although IWBRUG could possibly contribute to the present debate around possible public service obligation.

 

Action: EC to consider what improvements the IWBRUG might usefully ask for and which Government representatives and/or organisations could be approached.

 

 

 

Diana Conyers (DC), on behalf of the IW Association of District Councils, asked if one bus per hour could be permanently diverted to run via Perowne Way, Sandown. SG replied that this possibility has been raised with SV previously. However, SV rejected the idea due to the additional time required and the reported low travel demand. DV reported that route 24 which serves Perowne Way four times a day on three days a week, collects few passengers in the area.

 

DC reported that a passenger had purchased a 30-day ticket through the SV APP, which was valid for one year only – rather than the two years stated initially. SG replied that the new timetable advertises 30-day tickets as being valid for two years.

 

Action: SG to raise with SV.

 

 

 

John (?) asked if services on route 8 from Newport to Sandown only could be diverted to run via the Goddards brewery and possibly Perowne Way. However, this would make the route less comprehendible by passengers.

 

PJ reported that the new Island Line timetable shows four-minute turn-around times for trains at Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin. This may not be sufficient, and connection times with the ferries are too short.

 

PJ also reported that there are no live departure boards provided at Sandown. RM reported that the live departure boards at Shanklin were not functioning. The provision of liver departure boards was promised as part of the line upgrade.

 

Action: SG to raise with Mark Dunn, Manager of Island Line.

 

 

 

DJ read out a statement from Phil Marsh, attending on Zoom, that the trains are unable to stop close to the buffers at Ryde Pier Head for safety reasons, increasing passengers’ walk distances.

 

 

 

SG announced that the next Public Meeting could be held on 22nd July (subsequently changed to 29th July), subject to the availability of Richard Tyldesley of SV.

 

 

 

Meeting closed at 12:05.

 

Next Members’ Meeting on 24th June at 11:15 at Newport Methodist Church.

 



IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 22nd APRIL 2023

Minutes of the meeting held at the Methodist Church Hall, Newport.

In attendance: the following Executive members – Stuart George (SG), Dina Jung (DJ), James Nevell (JN), Robert May (RM) and Rodney Archer (RA) plus 14 ordinary members and 3 members online via Zoom.

Apologies from John Yunnie, Terry Jones, Phil Jelly and Diana Conyers.

Meeting opened at 11:15.

 

  1. Secretary’s Report JN

The winter bus timetable is still in operation but some seasonal services, such as the Needles Breezer and Island Coaster have commenced. Unfortunately, the poor weather during the recent Easter Holidays appeared to be discouraging use of these services.

The £2 Fare cap, provided by Government funding is expected to finish on 30th June. The Bus Recovery Grant and Bus Fare Cap Grant in England will both end then. However, Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper told the Transport Committee on 19 April that a longer-term approach to funding buses in England could be announced before then.

Service diversions caused by roadworks have reduced since the last meeting although some stops are temporarily out of use due to Wightfibre cable installation. Affected stops include John Street and Monkton Street in Ryde. However, the major diversion in Sandown caused by repair work to the railway bridge on Lake Hill remains in force. Ian Ward advised that Network Rail have asked Island Roads for a 4-week extension, which would keep the diversion in force until 30th June, although this has not been confirmed.

A member asked if some route 1 journeys could be extended from Cowes Carvel Lane into the Red Jet Terminal. Since Covid all route 1 services have terminated at Carvel Lane and are now run with double deck buses which cannot access the Red Jet terminal. However, the walk takes 3 minutes and is difficult for mobility impaired passengers. During the 1990s an hourly service from Newport served the Red Jet terminal separately. SG reported that Red Funnel ferries fund the Quay Connect service from the Southampton terminal to the city centre and rail station, and asked if they could support a service connecting Red Jet with either the Park & Ride, Newport or both.

Action: SG to ask Red Funnel ferries about funding a new bus service.

 

  1. Chairman’s Report SG

On the Island Line the existing timetable (~30-minute interval service from Ryde Esplanade to Shanklin) will run until 29th May.

From 30th May until 5th June the section between Ryde Esplanade and Ryde St John’s Road will be closed for repairs. A service will run from Ryde St John’s Road to Shanklin.

From 6th June until 9th June the Island Line will be closed for crew familiarisation on Ryde Pier.

On Saturday 10th June the line reopens with trains running to Ryde Pier Head. One train per hour will run from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin (and return) and another will run from Ryde Esplanade to Shanklin.

Sarah Innes asked if the new Island Line timetable could be emailed to members.

Action: SG to enquire with SWR about obtaining email copies of the timetables.

The Wighlink ferry service departing at 05:45 from Ryde Pier Head has been retimed to depart at 05:40. This will enable passengers to catch the 06:10 train from Portsmouth Harbour to London Waterloo.

However, there remain some issues regarding ferry-rail connections at Ryde Pier Head. The 21:45 ferry from Portsmouth has no connecting train at Ryde Pier Head.

Action: SG to raise this with SWR.

SWR has provided following responses to members’ questions regarding the Island Line.

  • Stopping trains closer to the buffers at Ryde Pier Head, to reduce passengers walk times to/from the ferries, is not possible due to rail safety regulations.

  • Extended the out of use platform at Ryde Esplanade across the redundant track to enable passengers to board/alight on both sides is also not possible. The extended platform edge would be adjacent to the conductor rail, which is not permitted under current rail safety regulations.



RM reported that Wightlink ticket offices at Ryde Pier Head and Yarmouth are no longer selling rail tickets. Pre-covid, rail tickets were available from Wightlink ticket offices, and they may be obliged to sell them under conditions of the original Sealink ferry privatisation in 1984.

Action: to be investigated with SWR.

At Southampton Central station, building works are preventing the Quay Connect bus (to the Red Funnel ferry/Red Jet terminals) from serving the south (westbound platform) side, temporarily. Access is only possible on the north (platform 1 for London) side. This causes access issues for mobility impaired passengers. However, work is due to be completed in the Autumn.



Meeting closed 12:00

Next meeting 27th May 2023.

 

I.W. Bus & Rail Users’ Group 

 

MINUTES of a meeting held on Saturday 25th March 2023 at 11.15am in the Methodist Church Small Hall.

 

Present: Stuart George (Chairman), Robert May (Vice-Chairman),John Yunnie (Membership Secretary & Treasurer, Dina Jung & Rodney Archer (Executive Members) plus 14 members.

 

5 Apologies received including the Secretary.

 

Chairman’s Report.

 

Mark Dunn (Island Line) had issued a Railway Time Table to be effective from 2nd April, allowing for a 30 minute service from The Esplanade to Shanklin.

 

Southern Vectis have issued a Summer Timetable showing only the extra services for the summer months. The full summer timetable will be available at the end of May.

 

The Treasurer requested that any who have not yet paid their subs do so soon.

 

Dina was thanked for producing had some publicity adverts, and events for future would also be available on line.

 

There was general discussion about the new Ryde Bus Station, and that it was doubtful if it would be large enough, particularly allowing two buses to pass side by side. Drivers had also shown some concern that long vehicles would find it difficult to turn onto the Esplanade from Union Street.

 

There were ongoing problems with the bus/trains/ferries connectivity and this was discussed at length.  

 

The next meeting – Saturday 22nd April.

 

The meeting closed at 12 noon.

 

 

 

Minutes of The Isle of Wight Bus and Rail Users Group Annual General Meeting held on the 4th March 2023 in the Methodist Church Hall, Newport, Isle of Wight.

In attendance the following Executive Committee members – Stuart George (SG), Robert May (RM), Dina Jung (DJ), John Yunnie (JY), James Nevell (JN), Rodney Archer (RA) and 18 ordinary members.

 

The Chairman (SG) opened the meeting at 11:15. Apologies were noted from Terry Jones, Mary Ward and Emily Brothers.

 

 

Secretary’s Report (JN)

The present winter bus timetable is running normally, although road works are causing diversions in some locations. The Government (DfT) announced on 17th February that the £2 bus fare and Covid bus support grant would continue until 30th June.

At the Public Meeting of 14th January Richard Tyldesley announced that the summer timetable would include routes 6 Newport – Ventnor, 12 Newport – Alum Bay, 37 Ryde – Haylands – Binstead and 38 Newport – Gunville. Services on these routes carry an above average proportion of passengers with English Nation Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) passes. However, ENCTS passenger numbers have returned to bus travel more slowly than other passenger groups, affecting the financial viability of these services. Southern Vectis is negotiating with the IW Council (IWC) regarding the level of reimbursement for ENCTS trips. The IWC had been awaiting DfT guidance on post-Covid reimbursement levels. The hope is that ENCTS travel on these routes will have recovered further by the summer, making these routes more financially sustainable.

Work continues repairing the railway on Ryde Pier. Progress has been hindered by bad weather and the discovery of more extensive corrosion than had been expected. Completion looks to be unlikely before early summer. Costs are likely to be affected by recent increases in steel prices.

 

Membership Secretary’s Report (JY)

Membership numbers are now at the same level as in December 2019. However, the make-up of these has changed significantly.

Two new members joined at the Public Meeting.

  

Treasurer’s Report (JY)

The IWBRUG accounts have now been published. The latest figures are:

Income: £237.06

Expenditure £267.08

Some on-going costs have been funded from donations. In order to make the group’s finances more sustainable, the membership fees have been increased to £5 annually.

Banking arrangements have been stabilised. Nationwide gave us notice to quit in spring 2022. A Treasurer’s account has now been opened at Lloyds, but no interest is paid on deposits.

Postage costs have reduced as more members can be contacted by email. However, the price of postage stamps is increasing again, so this will affect costs.

David Barnard queried the accounts concerning a figure of £11.40. JY agreed there had been a mistake and will reissue the accounts.

Acceptance of the revised accounts, proposed by Don Vincent and seconded by RM, was agreed by a vote of members present.

 

Executive Committee

Rodney Archer apologised for being less active than he wished owing to having long Covid.

Re-election of the EC was proposed by David Barnard and agreed by a vote of members present.

 

Other business

Andrew Turner asked if the IWBRUG could also represent ferry users on routes to the IW. This possibility has been considered previously and not proceeded with due to issues concerning the position and attitude of the ferry companies.

Phil Jelly had previously attended a Wightlink stakeholder group but considered it to be “owned” and run by the company and that its deliberations did not consider issues concerning “foot” passengers adequately.

Diana Conyers mentioned a Wightlink ferry users’ group, based on Facebook, which is independent of the company. JY has also communicated with this group.

JY mentioned that Red Jet connections with services on bus route 1 to Cowes Park & Ride site were now unsatisfactory.

 

AGM Closed. Next AGM provisionally arranged for 24th February 2024.

 

 

Members’ Meeting 4th March 2023

Matters arising.

  1. Diana Conyers asked if the £2 fare cap (and associated reimbursement) will be affecting the financial position of Southern Vectis. JN replied that Go Ahead Group, the parent company had not disclosed any information about this.

  1. SG reported that bus route diversions and delays caused by road closures are becoming more frequent. Recent cases include the closure of the Shanklin – Ventnor coastal road for repairs to the footpaths and closure of the Niton – Whitwell road. There is evidence that Island Roads may be encouraging utilities to apply for full closures in locations where single-file operation may be possible. Bus diversions and associated stop closures cause substantial increases in passengers’ walk distances and insufficient mitigation measures are in place. In particular recent closure of Park Road (Ryde) have affected passengers boarding at Ryde Library and Monkton Street, with the nearest stop being the bus station – itself subject to temporary stops on Ryde Esplanade. No notices were provided at the affected stops.

Ian Ward reported that the utilities (water/gas/electricity/telecoms) are permitted to dig up B-roads and minor roads without prior permission. The IWC has no control and little influence over disruption on A-roads.

Action: SG to raise with IWC and SV

  1. SG met with Catherine Folca of Transport Focus to discuss rail issues. In particular he asked for a reinstatement of the XX:15 Portsmouth Harbour – London Waterloo fast trains. This would help to reduce travel times from the IW to London, which are now significantly longer than they were in 2019 - pre-Covid.

  1. SG has sent an email to Mark Dunn, Island Line manager, asking for the timetables of the 2 trains/hour Ryde Esplanade – Shanklin service, to be run in summer 2023. Also, during the forthcoming closure of the Ryde Esplanade – Ryde St John’s Road section, will the pier shuttle buses be extended to run to Ryde St John’s Road?

  1. Diana Conyers asked about the costs of providing rail replacement buses during disruption around the network. This information is not immediately available.

  1. PJ expressed concern at the possible long-term effects on travel demand of the disruption on Island Line services and extended travel times to/from mainland stations.

  1. RA proposed a vote of thanks for the work of the EC during the past year. This was agreed by a vote of members present.

  1. Chris Biles (CB) expressed concern about Red Jet ferry extended travel times and reduced punctuality/reliability.

  1. CB reported that Next Stop Announcements (NSAs) are not always provided and that some drivers switch the equipment off. DJ also reported bus drivers claiming that NSAs are not their responsibility. RM commented that NSAs are needed for the benefit of visitors unfamiliar with the area.

Action: SG to raise with SV.

  1. David Barnard asked about withdrawal of The Key and subsequent arrangements for holders of credits. This system will be replaced by the phone APP.

  1. David Barnard asked if SV travelshops could stock printed timetables for services in Southampton and possibly Portsmouth (where these are available) to help IW residents plan travel – particularly to hospitals.

Action: SG to raise with SV.

 

Meeting closed 12:50. Next members’ meeting 25th March 2023.