Recent Minutes

IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 25th JUNE 2022

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

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

Meeting opened at 11:15.

Apologies from John Yunnie and Phil Marsh.

 

  1. Secretary’s Report.

The summer bus timetable is now running normally, although there have been several route diversions due to road works recently. A particular case is at Station Road, Ningwood, which will be closed from 22nd June – 25th July, preventing route 7 services from reaching Newbridge, Wellow and Thorley. This closure and Island Roads’ response to complaints from local residents about loss of bus services are considered unsatisfactory.

The Government’s Covid Bus Recovery Grant will cover losses incurred due to reduced passenger numbers following the pandemic up to 30th September. At the liaison meeting Richard Tyldesley indicated that significant service cuts from October are not anticipated, based on the present (April) patronage levels and rate of recovery. Recent observations of buses have shown healthy loadings, and the IW music festival last weekend will have boosted revenue more towards 2019 levels. There have been 2 further developments since the last meeting.

            1. However, the parent company (Go-Ahead Group) is now the subject of a takeover involving a private equity firm. Its policy towards the operation of marginal routes may therefore change.

            2. The IWC has announced a £4.6 million reimbursement for the carriage of passengers with concessionary passes. This is based on the numbers of passengers in 2019 and is intended to secure the operation of pre-Covid service levels until March 2023. If Go Ahead reduce services, the IWC payment will be reduced proportionally. [IW County Press 21st June.]

SG noted that he and DJ would be attending a Go-Ahead group stakeholder conference in Southampton next week at which they would raise the issue of potential reductions to services.

The Island Line train services are continuing to operate, albeit with the second (not ferry connecting) train often being cancelled. Rail-ferry connections at Ryde Pier Head are often missed in both directions due to late running ferries (from to extended loading times at Portsmouth due to building work) and trains being unable to keep to the schedules. Despite some crowding around the recent Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday, it was not possible to increase train lengths to 4-carriages. This may result from power supply issues concerning the sub-stations.

 

  1. Chairman’s Report

The IWBRUG Public Meeting has been postponed until January 2023 due to the availability of committee members. [Following discussions, this has been brough forward to September 2022.]

At the Ventnor Day event in Ventnor Park on 2nd July SG and DJ are to run an IWBRUG stall with the aim of attracting new members.

SG is trying to arrange a liaison meeting with the IW Council (IWC).

SG has contacted Mark West, a Go South Coast bus scheduler at Poole, to ask if the timetable of route 3 could be amended to reduce the connecting time for rail-bus passengers at Shanklin from the present 25 minutes. Richard Tyldesley has insisted that the timetable is set by the need to connect with other bus services.

SG attended a IWC consultation meeting about the 4th Local Transport Plan (LTP4) last Thursday. Bobby Lock (Island Line Community Rail Partnership) informed that meeting that the service will soon be restored to 2 trains/hour. However, Mark Dunn, Island Line manager (temporary), contradicted this later. That meeting heard that the IW is failing to meet its Carbon emissions reduction targets. Future levels of parking provision were discussed. SG asked for better rail-bus connections at Shanklin.

The Department for Transport (DfT) have rejected the IWC’s bid for Restoring Your Railway funds for reopening the former railway lines from Sandown – Newport and Shanklin – Ventnor.

Subscriptions are to be increased as follows:

Individual: £2 to £5

Organisation: £5 to £10.

Regarding publicity, JN is preparing an IWBRUG poster.


Members’ Questions

              1. DJ reported that some bus drivers are not sufficiently customer friendly. Issues include buses not stopping unless intending passengers put their hand out at stops and an apparent lack of local knowledge to help direct visitors to the attractions. She asked if present training programmes included how to direct visitors. The banksmen at Newport bus station have also been observed being off hand towards passengers.

              2. RM reported that although the Downs Breezer service was not running during the IW Festival, it was nevertheless shown on the live bus times app.

On Shanklin Esplanade coach parking will be lost with the recently announced redevelopment of the spa site. Around 30 car parking spaces will also be removed. Improvements to the Shanklin Shuttle service are possible.

Shanklin residents have asked when route 22 services will be restored to pre-Covid levels (4 days/week). However, there is presently a shortage of volunteer drivers.

              1. Phil Jelly (PJ) reported that rail-ferry connections at Ryde Pier Head are not being held in the event of late running, in both directions. [This was corroborated by Diana Conyers.] PJ wrote to Wightlink complaining about this but received a reply stating that rail connections are not their responsibility.

Customer service is also a problem on the Ryde – Portsmouth passenger ferry, with some staff not informing passengers about delays and/or not helping passengers with luggage on the steps around the building work at Portsmouth Harbour.

Customer service from staff on bus and ferry services has declined following the Covid lockdowns. [Nationally the same issue has been reported at UK airports in the press.]

              1. Rodney Archer described his involvement with the Church of England community transport operations serving 4 parishes in the South Wight area. He asked if improvements to bus services connecting the parishes this area could be considered.

              2. Diana Conyers detailed some questions that were raised by some of the IW town and parish councils in the IWC LTP4 consultation.

                1. Could consideration be given to the possibility of providing a bus service on East Hill Road, Ryde, to serve the Appley area? This could involve extending Ryde town route 37.

                2. Bembridge Parish Council would like to have a direct bus link to the Tesco store outside Ryde. This could involve diverting route 8.

                3. Could the possibility of providing express limited-stop services on some of the main bus routes be explored?

Action: SG to raise these suggestions with Southern Vectis.

 

Meeting closed: 12:30 pm

Next meeting 23rd July 2022



 

Isle of Wight Bus & Rail Users Group

Minutes of a Meeting held on Saturday 28th May 2022 at 11.15am in the Newport Methodist Church Hall.

In attendance: the following Executive members – Stuart George (SG), Dina Jung (DJ), Robert May (RM) and Rodney Archer (RA) and 7 ordinary members.

Apologies received from John Yunnie (Treasurer), James Nevell (Secretary) and Terry Jones.

  1. The Bus Stop located at Merstone Cross had been replaced and re-sited in a better position.

  2. Hand sanitizers on all buses had been removed without notice, and it was considered to have been a poor decision since many shops etc were still encouraging its use

  3. Errors on the train and bus time table indicator at Shanklin had been corrected , but the train is due to arrive one minute after the No 3 bus to Ventnor is due to leave.

  4. A date is awaited for a meeting with the I W Council.

  5. There is to be an event at Ventnor Park on Saturday 2nd July, between 12 noon and 6.00pm. It is intended that the IWBRUG will be present with a publicity stall. Members are encouraged to be there in the hope that membership may be increased by our presence.

  6. It was noted that the new SV Summer Time Table starting on 28th May had changes to the Breezers with an extension at the end of the season, to finish on 1st October.

  7. It was noted that the pier section of the Island Line would be closing for 7-12 weeks in September for further works to be completed. There would not be any replacement taxis provided during that period, neither would there be any provision for ferrying passenger along the pier for the ferry.

  8. A request had been made to SV for a new bus service along Perowne Way in Lake. During a recent lengthy diversion along that road, there was a considerable use of the change, indicating that such a service would be of benefit to residents of that area.

  9. A request was made for a Bus Stop in York Avenue, East Cowes to be replaced/re-sited for routes 4 & 5. The matter will be taken to the next meeting with SV.

  10. It was suggested that a regular bus route be introduced along East Hill Road in Ryde.

  11. It was suggested that before the next Public Meeting, to be held on Saturday 23rd July, there should be consensus of matters recommended for discussion. At the next meeting these ideas would be discussed and agreed upon.

  12. It was suggested that publicity should be more widely made in the County Press, on bus stops and in buses to advertise the existence of this group. SV would be asked to co-operate more readily than in the past.

  13. There being no further matters, the meeting closed at 12 noon.

  14. Next meeting - 25th June 2022 at 11.15am.

 

IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 23rd APRIL 2022

 

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

 

In attendance: the following Executive members – Stuart George (SG), Dina Jung (DJ) and James Nevell (JN), plus Robert May (RM) on Zoom and 5 ordinary members.

 

Meeting opened at 11:20.

 

Apologies from John Yunnie, Phil Jelly and Fintan Jemmett.

 

 

 

  1. Secretary’s Report.

 

Services on most bus routes have returned to normal following cancellations due to drivers being off sick with Covid infections. However there have been some diversions affecting routes 2,3 and 8 in the Sandown area (just finished) and Ryde, lasting for over a month. Although temporary stops and diversion notices at stops have been provided, passengers have been inconvenienced and services delayed.

 

The Island Line train service is running, although the second train on weekdays has been cancelled on some days recently. However, connections with the ferry at Ryde Pier are often missed. Late arriving ferries (due to longer boarding times arising from the repair work at Portsmouth Harbour) are missing the train, leaving some passengers with an hours’ wait. This is unsatisfactory for all passengers, particularly visitors.

 

 

 

        2.Chairman’s Report

 

SG asked Stewart Chandler of the IW Council (IWC) about the plans for the Bullen Cross eastbound stop. This stop has been damaged in a road traffic accident and a temporary stop provided at the junction with Oakhill Road. JN commented that the stop could be permanently relocated to Oakhill Road, and that the IWC/Island Roads could provide a raised hard-standing area for passengers.

 

The IWC’s Bus Service Improvement Plan did not secure and Government funding through the National Bus Strategy programme. This may have been due to a lack of firm proposals for bus priority schemes to help prevent traffic delays to services. This may in turn have reflected a reluctance of IWC members to remove on-street parking in some areas.

 

Richard Tyldesley (RT), Southern Vectis manager, has confirmed that the seasonal services including the Island Coaster will have Next Stop Announcements (NSAs) provided when a bus fitted with the necessary equipment is used.

 

RT has also indicated that NSAs will sometimes inform passengers about service diversions and cover any alternative stops.

 

RT has also indicated that a retiming of the 05:30 route 3 service from Newport to arrive earlier at Shanklin rail station, to connect with a train, will be considered for the Winter timetable.

 

JY and SG met Mark Dunn (MD), South Western Railway (SWR) temporary manager of the Island Line recently. MD admitted that there are service delivery problems and would like to help resolve them. On Saturdays only half of the ferries arriving at Ryde Pier Head in July and August will have a train connection, causing many passengers to walk down the pier. SG has suggested to MD a potential timetable that could address this problem, giving train connections with all except 2 ferries.

 

 


Members’ Questions

 

              1. The “leaning” bus stop pole and flag at Merstone Cross has been removed. Are there any plans to replace it?

 

Action: SG to raise with Southern Vectis.

 

              1. Diana Conyers (DC) reported that the IW Association of Local Councils, which represents 28 (of the 33) local councils, has agreed to joint IWBRUG as an Associate Member, and will pay the £5 fee. DC will convey the local councils’ issues to the IWBRUG.

 

              1. DC reported that hand sanitisers are no longer provided on buses. These dispensers help reassure passengers about the cleanliness and safety of travelling. Could this be raised with SV?

 

Action: SG to raise with Southern Vectis.

 

              1. DC reported that work on Ryde Interchange has commenced. However, management of the railway station work has been passed by SWR to IWC.

 

Action: Progress on the Ryde Esplanade station elements of the Ryde Interchange project is to be monitored. Work should commence by spring 2023 for the funding to be retained.

 

              1. DJ suggested the possibility of IWBRUG sponsorship of newly planted trees around regeneration projects to gain publicity.

 

Action: DJ/SG to enquire with David Newton of IWC.

 

 

 

Meeting closed at 12:05 pm.

 

Next meeting on 28th May 2022.

 



 

 

IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 26th MARCH 2022

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

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

Meeting opened at 11:15.

Apologies from John Yunnie, Terry Jones and Mary Ward.

 

  1. Secretary’s Report.

Last month it was unclear whether many bus services would now be running, because there was no further Covid bus recovery funds in place and patronage/revenue had not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. However, on 1st March the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that £150m is to be provided for a final Covid support package for bus and light rail operators in England, outside London. On the same day Southern Vectis (SV) announced on their website that the seasonal bus services (Downs/Needles Breezers, Island Coaster, Shanklin Shuttle and Summer Links) will all run as normal in 2022.

During last week some bus drivers have been off work with Covid, resulting in service reductions on routes 1 Newport-Cowes (to every 20 minutes), 5 Newport-East Cowes (to every 40 minutes) and 9 Newport – Ryde (to every 20 minutes).

The Island rail line has also been affected by Covid related staff absences, with only 1 train running on some days last week. The Ryde – Portsmouth passenger ferry has been cancelled all day on some days.

  1. Chairman’s Report

The Island Line has an hourly train service, with an extra train at peak times. This will not change during the new timetable, which starts on 3rd April. Some members of the Executive Committee (EC) will attend an Island Line Stakeholder Meeting with South Western Railway (SWR) next Tuesday. The issues of service reliability and difficulties in providing the promised 30-minute interval service will be raised.

Some EC members attended a liaison meeting with SV on Friday 25th March. Richard Tyldesley (RT), manager of SV, informed us that the new Covid bus recovery grant is only half the amount of the previous round. However, passenger numbers have now recovered to around 80% of pre-Covid levels, with concessionary pass trips at 70% and fare paying trips at 90% respectively. No service cuts are currently anticipated following the end of the grant, provided the recovery in patronage continues. However, routes 1 and 9 have been badly affected by reduced passenger numbers during the pandemic.

The former “Vectis Blue” buses now repainted into standard colours do not have “Next Stop Announcement” (NSA) equipment fitted. SV has been awaiting DfT funding for this, through the DfT’s National Bus Strategy award for the IW Council’s (IWC) Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). However, SV is not now expecting IWC to be awarded any BSIP funding. A member asked why Government money is needed to deliver this when the single deck buses, formerly used on route 1 and fitted with NSA equipment, were transferred away from the IW.

RM asked if NSAs will be provided on the seasonal routes (Coaster, Shanklin Shuttle and Summerlinks), when buses fitted with the equipment are used.

Action: to be raised with SV.


IWBRUG asked SV about the poor publicity regarding the recent fare rise. Children (under-16s) now pay 55% of the adult fare rather than 50%. This change is due to the IWC home-to-school transport contract changing, which has resulted in most under-16s travelling on service buses.

SWR have installed a new live departure screen under the canopy on the outside of Shanklin station. This also shows the scheduled bus departures, but these are currently incorrect. Don Vincent reported that the display is hard to read due its position and light coming through the translucent canopy. The southbound train-bus connection is 24 minutes, but SV will not change the route 3 schedule due to connections made elsewhere.

The IWBRUG Public Meeting will be held on 23rd July, subject to availability of the main hall at Newport Methodist Church. This has now been confirmed and booked.

SV have agreed to advertise IWBRUG meetings on their buses and also to provide a link from their website to ours.

Delays to buses approaching Alum Bay have been reported. SV is discussing this issue with the managers of the leisure park.

The Bullen Cross bus stop, raised by Mary Ward at the previous meeting, was damaged in a traffic accident and then relocated. However, its present location is considered to be unsafe, with poor lighting.

Action: IWBRUG to raise with IWC.

Some stops still have out of date notices concerning service diversions. These have not been removed due to insufficient staff availability, with some staff off sick with Covid.

The Needles Breezer route is now running. The other seasonal services will start during April and May and continue until September/October.

 

  1. Members’ Questions

Phil Jelly (PJ) reported that SWR is likely to be unable to introduce a 30-minute interval service as originally proposed. JN responded that a 30-minute interval service was operated before 1987, with train passing at Brading. However, this was before the addition of new stations at Lake (1987) and Smallbrook Junction (1991). Station dwell times seem longer than previously, although I have not timed them. The door opening and closing procedure seems to be more elaborate than previously. DJ noted that the doors open and close more slowly on the new trains than when they were in use on London Underground.

PJ agreed with the proposal for a new link to the IWBRUG website from the SV one. However, it should be clarified that minor operational issues, over which the IWBRUG has no control, should not be raised through IWBRUG.

A member asked if NSAs could include diversions when they are in place for a significant period. He reported that the recent Lake diversion, which lasted 6 for weeks, was not mentioned on NSAs and drivers were often not informing passengers for Lake Health Centre to alight at the Fairway. DJ reported that NSAs on London buses do mention diversions and also include any stops on the diversion route.

Action: to be raised with SV.

Diana Conyers reported that SV drivers have been trained through an Age UK programme to help passengers with reduced mobility and conditions such as dementia.

John reported that SV have published a leaflet promoting the seasonal services. Also, the new SV timetable will start on 27th May.

Meeting closed at 12:10.

Next meeting 23rd April.

 

 

Minutes of The Isle of Wight Bus and Rail Users Group Annual General Meeting held on the 26th February 2022 in the Methodist Church Hall, Newport, Isle of Wight.

 In attendance the following Executive Committee members – Robert May (RM), Dina Jung (DJ), John Yunnie (JY), James Nevell (JN), Rodney Archer (RA) and 15 ordinary members. A further member attended through Zoom.

 

The Deputy Chairman (RM) opened the meeting at 11:15. Apologies were noted from Stuart George.

 

Secretary’s Report (JN)

The present winter bus timetable is running normally. However, passenger numbers (and hence revenue) have not yet returned to pre-Covid levels. The Government’s Covid Bus Recovery Grant (BRG), which provides revenue support to secure loss-making bus services while patronage is depressed, is due to finish on 5th April. Almost all services are run commercially, so revenues must exceed costs. The ultimate extent of patronage recovery is still unclear, and it is possible that some services may still be loss-making by this date, and that withdrawals and/or reductions in service frequencies may be necessary on some routes to keep costs below revenues.

Southern Vectis have previously informed us that routes 1 Newport-Cowes and 9 Newport-Ryde have suffered the largest reductions in patronage, mostly due to office staff working remotely. It seems probable that these routes may be affected.

The deadline for operators registering service changes to take effect from 5th April was yesterday (25th February), but no details have been made public. We may need to consider writing to the MP to express our concerns if passengers are badly affected by service cuts.

Update: on 1st March the Department for Transport announced that the BRG in England will be extended for a further 6 months until October. However, funding will be conditional upon “local areas and operators co-designing a financially sustainable and passenger-focused public transport network”. The extent of any necessary changes to commercial services will depend on how patronage recovers over the summer. We will try to engage with Southern Vectis and the IW Council to minimise any adverse impacts on passengers.

On the Island Line a two-train service is now being run during peak periods, when many students from Sandown Bay Academy are travelling. However, an exact 30-minute interval service is not being achieved. The trains that do not connect with a ferry terminate at Ryde Esplanade – as suggested to SWR by IWBRUG. Ferry services at busy times will be increased to run every 30 minutes from April but it is not clear whether connecting trains will be provided for all ferries at Ryde Pier Head.

The railway is facing its most serious financial situation since 1976, with the Government requiring costs to be reduced by 10% in 2022-23. SWR has reduced services in response to the Covid restrictions, but it is not clear how many of the pre-covid timetable will be reinstated. There is currently only 1 fast Portsmouth Harbour – London Waterloo service compared with 2 in 2019, and connections with the Ryde ferries involving a wait time of over 30 minutes. If this continues through the summer, it will adversely affect visitors to the Island.

At Shanklin, the trains arrive just as a number 3 bus to Ventnor is departing, leaving interchanging passengers with a 30-minute wait. This situation is unsatisfactory and will be raised with Southern Vectis and SWR.

 

Membership Secretary’s Report (JY).

No subscriptions were charged in 2021 and those for 2022 are now due.

No members’ meetings were held in 2021 and membership remained at the low level it was at the start of the year. Four new members joined in Ventnor following the campaign to retain town council funding for the continued operation of route 31.

It is necessary to increase our membership base. There are currently only 43 members and 2 life members. This level could affect our credibility when liaising with the bus/rail operators and IW Council. In past years many new members have joined at the public meetings. However, no public meetings have been held since January 2020.

Finance has been quiet with no subscriptions and lower outgoings. The Methodist Church Hall has been hired less, with only £64 costs incurred. Significant postal costs were incurred when meetings could not be held due to Covid restrictions, and contact was made with some members who have no access to emails.

The group subscription to Railfuture, the national rail campaign group, has been paid. Although we remain affiliated to Bus Users’ UK, a subscription is no longer required. A donation of £10 has been made.

The current balance stands at £600.59.

JY opined that press advertisements could be expensive and might consume a large part of this balance.

Mary Ward (MW) proposed acceptance of the accounts, which were accepted by a vote.

 

Chairman’s Report (SG) read by RM.

Covid has dominated the transport scene since our last AGM in July last year and has resulted in passenger numbers showing a decline both on Island Line and Southern Vectis. This should give cause for concern for the future as rail and bus subsidies are due to be reduced or withdrawn.

Island Line reopened in November, initially with an hourly service, but this has now been increased to half-hourly during Monday to Friday peak times and for much of Saturdays, but with alternate trains terminating at Ryde Esplanade following a suggestion made by our group. We await details of the service to be provided from April when the FastCat becomes half-hourly on some days. We will be attending an Island Line Stakeholder Forum next month.

Southern Vectis bus fares were increased last month but this was the first general fares rise for many years, so we didn't comment specifically on it. We also have a meeting arranged with SV next month.

Bus stop flags continue to be replaced slowly by a new design, although this is causing some confusion where the name of the stop has changed.

We met the IW Council on 11th of this month to discuss its “Bus Service Improvement Plan” and other topics and have another meeting scheduled for May.

 

Deputy Chairman’s Report (RM)

RM detailed the bus fare increases that took effect from February. These vary in scale and mostly affect single fares. Some fares are cheaper if purchased through the Southern Vectis smartphone application.

 

DJ Report

DJ described how IWBRUG continues to campaign for environmental improvements. She has outlined our work to the IW Environmental Forum, which she has joined. She is also arranging the Zoom streaming of IWBRUG meetings to enable members to attend remotely.

 

RA proposed a vote of thanks to the Executive Committee (EC) members, which was supported.

 

Agenda item 7

JY detailed the proposal to amalgamate the roles of Treasurer and Membership Secretary, both of which he now performs. MW seconded and the proposal was accepted by a majority vote.

 

Agenda item 8

The sitting EC members and RA have all offered to stand for re-election in their current roles. No other candidates were nominated. The re-election of the present EC members un-opposed was supported by a majority vote.

RA spoke introducing himself as a former British Rail employee with an interest in all forms of public transport, including buses and ferries.

 

AOB

 

MW enquired about responsibility for relocating bus stops and suggested that the Bullen Cross stop may have been moved by a private individual.

Action: SG to enquire with the IWC highways department.

 

Another member complained about notices of bus route diversions not being removed from stops after expiry. Visually impaired passengers are affected as they have to ask other waiting passengers to read the notices and can have difficulties finding out when diversions end.

Action: to be raised at the next SV liaison meeting.

 

RA asked if members who experience unsatisfactory journeys could record details including dates/times. This could enable IWBRUG to raise the issues with operators.

RA asked members for any ideas for on how IWBRUG could improve its effectiveness.

MW reported that the footbridge over the railway at Ryde Esplanade requires handrails. This affects bus and rail passengers accessing the Hovertravel terminal. The provision of lifts is not now included in the Ryde Interchange scheme, being delivered through the Transforming Cities Fund programme.

Action: SG to enquire with the IWC and SWR about ownership of the footbridge and investigate possibilities.

 

Diana Conyers reported that she is now the chair of the IW Association of Local Councils and indicated that there could be possibilities for an association or close relationship with IWBRUG.

 

Meeting closed at 12:15

Next members’ meeting on 26th March at 11:15. in the Methodist Church Hall, Newport.

 

 

 

IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 27th NOVEMBER 2021 AT 11:15

 

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

 

In attendance: the following Executive members – Stuart George (SG), Robert May (RM), John Yunnie (JY) and James Nevell (JN), plus 8 ordinary members.

 

  1. Secretary’s Report.

 

Island Line trains resumed passenger services as announced by SWR on 1st November. However, only an hourly service is provided. SWR have stated that a half hourly service is not warranted by the present levels of passenger demand but will be introduced in spring 2022 as passenger numbers increase. This is unsatisfactory for some of the Sandown Bay Academy students who still require a rail-replacement bus service. Also, the Ryde – Portsmouth passenger ferry runs every 30 minutes on some days, so some ferry passengers arrive at Ryde Pier Head have to wait over 30 minutes for a train.

 

The new trains are now able to complete a round trip within 60 minutes, and hence maintain the timetable. However, this does not include any time allowance for calling at Smallbrook Junction.

 

The winter bus timetable is now running mostly satisfactorily. The recent problems with driver shortages resulting in cancellations on routes 1 and 9 appear to have been overcome. Bus passenger numbers have substantially recovered on most routes. However, there are still some shortfalls on the busiest routes (1 and 9) due to continued home working and a reluctance of some concessionary pass holders to return to bus travel. Anecdotally, some elderly and vulnerable potential passengers may be avoiding buses due to anxiety about Covid infection from other passengers – particularly those not wearing masks. However, this is not certain as passenger numbers in Scotland and Wales, where mask wearing is still compulsory, have also not recovered fully.

 

Bus fares will be increased by 1.9% from January 2022. This is the maximum allowed by the Department for Transport for recipients of the Covid Bus Recovery Grant, which lasts until March 2022.

 

  1. Chairman’s Report

 

The National Rail online journey planner shows the Island Line having a half-hourly service from 12th December. However, the SWR website shows only an hourly service.

 

The new trains have a lower rate of acceleration than their predecessors, which makes keeping to the timetable challenging. DJ reported that the train doors are slow to open and close. SWR are seeking to reduce the door movement time by 3 seconds to reduce the train dwell times at stations to help the trains keep to time. RM reported some late running trains from Sandown on weekdays.

 

Ventnor Town Council has voted to continue funding the subsidy required for route 31 to continue, as reported in the news webpage www.onthewight.com. The IW Councillor for Bonchurch supported IWBRUG on this issue. Following the VTC consideration of funding withdrawal, four regular route 31 passengers have joined IWBRUG.

 

It is intended to hold the first IWBRUG Public Meeting for two years on Saturday 15th January 2022 at 11:00 in the Methodist Church Hall, Newport, subject to Covid restrictions. Richard Tyldesley will represent Southern Vectis. The Island Line will be represented by Phil Dominey and Max Miller. Cllr Phil Jordan will represent the IW Council.

 

  1. Treasurer’s Report

 

The replacement of bus stop flags, announced by SV, is proceeding at a slow pace. Also, some stops have been renamed. The on-bus next stop announcements and visual display units refer to some stops by different names than those shown on the flags.

 

Action: To be raised with SV at the next liaison meeting.

 

The IW Steam Railway (IWSR) is to commence its “Santa Special” services from 4th December. SWR have confirmed that a limited number of Island Line service will be calling at Smallbrook Junction to give connections to the IWSR. On the first weekend the 10:13 ex-Shanklin and the 11:44, 13:44 and 14:44 ex-RydePier Head will call at Smallbrook. On the second weekend the 10:13 and 14:14 ex-Shanklin and the 10:44 and 13:43 ex-Ryde Pier Head will serve Smallbrook.

 

The SWR franchise does not require all Island Line trains to call at Smallbrook and there is no agreement on stopping patterns. Also, there is no prior publicity from SWR regarding these timetable changes. Phil Jelly (PJ) asked if SWR could be requested to advertise timetable changes in the IW County Press newspaper.

 

The new ticket vending machines will not accept cash payments due to security issues.

 

The present location of the portable ramps used to give wheelchair access onto trains at Ryde Esplanade and Brading requires the guard to walk some distance, increasing delays.

 

 

 

  1. Members’ questions

 

DJ reported waiting at the stop on Station Road, Sandown, before finding that buses had been diverted. The diversion notice was in place. However, the duration of the period when the stops were not served affected passengers.

 

SG reported that some bus drivers have become less friendly towards passengers following the installation of screens. It can be difficult to hear passengers through the screen.

 

PJ had heard that printed rail timetables are being phased out nationally. However, JY reported that printed timetables should be provided from May 2022 when the DfT Covid derogation expires.

 

PJ asked if an “all-Island” printed travel guide could be produced, possible with IWC assistance.

 

Action: to be raised with IW Cllr Phil Jordan

 

 

 

Meeting closed 12:30.

 

No December meeting.

 

Public Meeting on 15th January 2022 at 11:00 at Methodist Church Hall, Newport.

 

Next members’ meeting, the AGM on 26th February 2022.

 

 

 

IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 23rd OCTOBER 2021 AT 11:15

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

In attendance: the following Executive members – Stuart George (SG), Robert May (RM), John Yunnie (JY) and James Nevell (JN), plus 8 ordinary members.

  1. Apologies were received from Terry Richards and Dina Jung.

  1. Secretary’s Report.

The winter 2021 timetable is now in operation. Service levels are similar to those provided in the last pre-Covid winter timetable in 2019. Although bus passenger numbers and revenue remain below pre-Covid levels, the DfT Bus Recovery Grant is expected to cover much of the resulting operating losses until March 2022.

Nationally bus passenger numbers and revenue have recovered to reach 70% of pre-Covid equivalent levels. The levels on the IW are around 80%. However, many former office-based staff continue to work from home, depressing commuter numbers. Also, the numbers of OAP concessionary passengers are still only 50% of pre-Covid equivalent levels. Anecdotally this may reflect a perceived risk due to other passengers not wearing masks. Although the on-bus announcements ask passengers to wear face coverings, observance levels have reported declined in recent weeks.

The Island Line is due to reopen on Monday 1st November. Although there has been some speculation on social media about possible further delays, South Western Railway (SWR) has insisted that the date will be met.

The IW Council (IWC) is developing a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) with Southern Vectis as required by the Government’s National Bus Strategy “Bus Back Better”. The BSIP is due to be submitted to the DfT by 31st October.

 

  1. Chairman’s Report.

Although the Island Line is scheduled to reopen on 1st November, the Wightlink Ryde – Portsmouth “Fastcat” passenger ferry timetable will still have some 2-hour gaps during the day. The last departure from Portsmouth is still at 20:20. Some Island Line trains will therefore arrive at Ryde Pier Head when there is no connecting ferry, even though passengers may expect there to be one based on the train departure time. RM reported that Wightlink did operate additional evening services on this route when the Portsmouth – Fishbourne car ferry services were diverted to use Portsmouth International Ferry Port, which is not accessible by foot passengers. These additional services were fairly well used.

Action: SG to raise at the SWR Island Line stakeholder meeting on 5th November, for discussion with Wightlink.

The IWBRUG EC met with Richard Tyldesley and Simon Moyes for the Southern Vectis liaison meeting on 8th October.

Bua fares are expected to be increased by 1.9% in January 2022. This is to cover rising costs of fuel, wages and imported spare vehicle parts, and to reduce reliance on the Bus Recovery Grant which finishes in March 2022.

Route 31 (Ventnor town service) is still under threat of withdrawal due to a desire by Ventnor Town Council (VTC) to remove the subsidy. This was discussed at a VTC meeting on 11th October. Some of the passengers have been consulted above the move, but many of them are elderly with few other travel options.

The IWBRUG will hold a public meeting on Saturday 15th January 2022 at the Methodist Church Hall, Newport. Representatives from SV and SWR as well as Phil Jordan, IWC Cabinet member for transport, will attend.

 

  1. Treasurer’s Report

There have been no financial matters arising or membership issues since the last meeting.

Future new buses joining the SV fleet may not be powered by diesel. However, batteries still do not have sufficient energy storage capacity for powering double deck buses on hilly routes. The possibility of hydrogen powered buses for use on route 9 (Ryde – Newport) is being considered. However, there would need to be a hydrogen production facility on the IW for this to be worthwhile. If hydrogen was transported or piped to the IW, the additional energy, and resulting carbon emissions, required to achieve this would outweigh the savings from not using diesel powered buses.

The issue of excessive long and intrusive Covid announcements was raised with SV at the liaison meeting. SV denied it was a problem. However, SG reported that the duration and frequency of Covid announcements has subsequently been reduced.

Following the Island Line upgrade, Network Rail will be undertaking a separate refurbishment work on Ryde Pier to ensure its future use by trains. However, we could ask for the work to include replacement of the rapidly deteriorating screen between the pier head station and the vehicle/pedestrian pier.

Action: SG/JN to raise at the SWR Island Line stakeholder meeting on 5th November.

 

  1. Phil Jelly Report on ferry issues

The IWBRUG is to be congratulated for its role in securing £150,000 for improvements to bus stops, including the provision of hard standing areas.

Connections between Island Line trains and Wighlink ferries at Ryde Pier Head could be problematic in future. A meeting with SWR Island Line upgrade project managers disclosed that SWR priorities are for the ferries to connect with incoming fast London trains at Portsmouth Harbour, and for Island Line trains to connect with arriving Wightlink ferries at Ryde Pier Head. Connections in the reverse (northbound) direction are less important. However, in the new Island Line timetable, trains arrive at Ryde Pier Head at XX:41 and the ferry gate is closed at XX:43. This 2 minute allowance for walking time will cause some passengers to miss ferries.

Action: SG/JN to raise rail/ferry connections with SWR at the Island Line stakeholder meeting.

There is some concern regarding Wighlink’s interest/commitment to maintaining the Ryde – Portsmouth passenger ferry. A 50p surcharge is now levied on all ferry passengers to recover the cost of removing the charge for cars to use the pier. This subsidy of motorist by train/foot passengers is unsatisfactory.

SWR have not resumed production of printed timetable leaflets for the Island Line post-Covid. Other train operating companies are also phasing out printed timetables.

 

  1. Members’ questions

Footpath crossings of the railway can be hazardous for pedestrians with impaired hearing. Could warning lights and/or sounds be provided? This possibility could be raised with SWR.

Don Vincent asked if funds for providing raised kerbs at more bus stops could be requested following the successful funding of bus stop improvements described above. The possibility of funding further bus stop improvements, including the suggested Godshill bus shelter, through the BSIP process could be explored with IWC and possibly raised at the IWBRUG Public Meeting on 15th January.

 

Meeting closed at 12:08. The next members’ meeting will be held on 27th November.

 

  

IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 25th SEPTEMBER 2021 AT 11:15

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

In attendance: the following Executive members – Stuart George (SG), Robert May (RM), John Yunnie (JY) and James Nevell (JN), plus 7 ordinary members.

 

  1. Apologies were received from Fintan Jemmet and Mary Ward.

 

  1. Secretary’s Report.

The IW Council (IWC) is developing its fourth Local Transport Plan (LTP4). The LTP4 will set out IWC transport policies and priorities for the period up to 2040. This will be published and consulted on in 2022.

On 23rd September I attended an IWC stakeholder workshop on the LTP4 Vision and Objectives, representing IWBRUG. Much of the discussion was high-level, although some of the participants were concerned with bus stop locations and passengers with reduced mobility. A survey questionnaire was also sent to participants.

South Western Railway (SWR) have announced their intention to resume Island Line rail services from Monday 1st November. It is hoped that SWR will be able to deliver this, although the IW County Press reported that on September 10th the software issues with the new trains had not been fully resolved.

The Southern Vectis (SV) Winter 2021 bus timetable commences tomorrow (26th September). Most of the seasonal services (Breezers, the Coaster, Shanklin Shuttle and route 27) will cease running. A number of duplicate services on school routes, some of them introduced to help maintain social distancing when this was required, have also been withdrawn. However, service levels on all other routes are unchanged.

The Government’s Covid Bus Service Support Grant to bus operators ceased on 31st August. This has been replaced by the Covid Bus Recovery Grant (CBRG), which is less generous. Passenger numbers and revenue have recovered but are still below 2019 levels, particularly commuting. Conditions of the CBRG require no reductions in bus mileage exceeding 5% and no fare increases. As the numbers are commercially confidential, the impact on Go South Coast’s financial position and future service levels remains unclear.

 

  1. Chairman’s Report.

The Wightlink timetable for the FastCat Ryde-Portsmouth passenger ferry still has some 2-hour gaps and no early morning / late evening services. The service is unsatisfactory for most commuters and many visitors. Trips to evening events (e.g. theatres) on the mainland are not now possible.

This issue is likely to affect more passengers when the Island Line train service resumes. Intending rail + ferry travellers could arrive by train at Ryde Pier Head to find there is no ferry for 1½ hours.

Action: SG to raise the issue of Ryde-Portsmouth ferry service levels with Phil Dominey of SWR, for discussion with Wightlink.

There have been some short notice bus service cancellations on routes 1, 2, 3 and 9 in recent weeks. This may partly reflect a current national shortage of bus drivers. FYT services have also been reduced due to a shortage of volunteer drivers.

SWR recently consulted stakeholders, including IWBRUG, on their proposed December 2022 timetable. IWBRUG supported a request from the Railfuture Wessex branch for the addition of a stop at Clapham Junction on the London Waterloo – Portsmouth Harbour “fast” services. This will enable passengers from London suburban stations to reach Portsmouth and the IW much more quickly, without travelling via London Waterloo.

Route 31 Ventnor town service, which runs twice weekly and is supported financially by Ventnor Town Council (VTC) is to be withdrawn from 31st October. This is despite loadings having increased in 2021. VTC and IWC have not responded to IWBRUG emails, although SG has raised the issue with Cllrs Rodney Downer and Phil Jordan. IWC transport officer Stuart Chandler is to meet VTC to discuss. The possibility of operating route 31 as a community minibus has been suggested but this would require volunteer drivers who may not be available.

The IWBRUG Public Meeting will be held in January 2022. SG is to ask SV and SWR for notices to be displayed on buses and trains in advance of this.

 

 Treasurer’s Report

There has been no change in membership since the last meeting. The subscriptions to Railfuture and Bus Users UK have been paid.

Covid notice announcements on bus public address systems are becoming intrusive and irritating – being loud and repeating frequently. In some cases the next stop announcements are stopped to play the Covid notices, adversely affecting visitors travelling by bus.

Action: JY to raise with SV at the next liaison meeting.

The first Island Line train on 1st November may actually be a ceremonial service with dignitaries to mark the reopening and launch the new service. The full service may not commence until the afternoon.

In the new Island Line service, the first train is due to leave Shanklin at 06:17. The original announcement concerning the upgrade promised an earlier service from Shanklin than in the past.  If this is not reinstated, that promise will have been broken.  As indicated in the Chairman’s report, this issue will be raised with Phil Dominey of SWR.

Problems have been reported with the rail replacement buses. Different operators have been employed on the contract and a range of older vehicles used. The Havenstreet service connecting with the IW Steam Railway has been particularly affected with taxi substitutions, erratic time-keeping and early departures reported by IWSR staff.

 

  1. Members’ Questions

John Edwards reported the replacement of bus stop flags in Cowes and asked if it will be rolled out across the network. SG replied that SV are to replace all bus stop flags with an improved design.

The IWC are developing their Bus Service Improvement Plan for submission to the Department for Transport (DfT) in October. Based on the DfT guidance, this is likely to include highway schemes to assist buses and possibly new routes to connect unserved areas. Possibilities include Havenstreet and Porchfield, which lost their services a few years ago when IWC financial support was removed. However, JN reported that demand for bus travel to Havenstreet is uncertain, with few passengers travelling to/from the village when an hourly Ryde-Havenstreet-Newport service ran in the 1980s. The credibility of IWBRUG may be affected if it campaigns for a service which is not used.

 

Meeting closed at 12:16. Next meeting on 23rd October 2021.

 

 

IWBRUG MEMBERS MEETING 28th AUGUST AT 11:15

 

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

 

In attendance: the following Executive members – Stuart George (SG), Dina Jung (DJ) and James Nevell (JN), plus 12 ordinary members.

 

  1. Apologies were received from John Yunnie, Phil Jelly, Sarah Innes and Mary Ward.

 

Secretary’s Report.

 

The Summer 2021 bus timetable is nearing the end of its period of operation. Bus passenger numbers are recovering but remain significantly below 2019 levels. The Covid Bus Service Support Grant (CBSSG) will finish at the end of August. It is to be replaced by the Covid Bus Recovery Fund (CBRG). However, the CBRG payments will be less generous than those of the CBSSG, although the conditions attached require no substantial reductions in bus mileage compared with pre-Covid (2019) levels. As the numbers are commercially confidential, the impact on Go South Coast’s financial position and future service levels remains unclear.

 

The Island Line remains closed with no reopening date announced. Flooding caused by heavy rain earlier this month was reported by Modern Railways to have damaged the formation in 16 places. However, a member reported that test running of the new (type 484) trains has recently resumed. A second new train was brought to the IW last week. Testing of the new trains yet to be moved to the Island continues between Fareham and Eastleigh to accumulate fault-free mileage before they are ready for service.

 

  1. Chairman’s Report.

 

The Executive Committee met with Cllr Phil Jordan, member for Transport, on 29th July. In this 2-hour meeting the issues regarding Ryde Interchange, the forthcoming Bus Service Improvement Plan, traffic congestion and the possibility of a Public Service Obligation for the Portsmouth-Ryde ferry routes were discussed.

 

 Newport bus station waiting room has reopened but is only a third of its former size and has no seats or a coffee machine.

 

SG is to attend a consultation meeting on the South Western Railway (SWR) proposed December 2022 timetable. Connections between Island Line and SWR trains and Wightlink ferries are critical. Two “fast” trains from Portsmouth-London will be reinstated, although one of them will call additionally at Farncombe. IWBRUG and Railfuture Wessex are asking for these trains to call additionally at Clapham Junction for connections to suburban stations.

 

Ventnor Town Council (VTC) are to cease funding the subsidy for local route 31. This route is used by elderly and disabled passengers in this hilly area. However, no vote has been taken. No response has been received from enquiries to VTC.

 

The new IWBRUG website is up and running.

 

 

 

  1. Dina Jung’s Report.

 

Travel from Wootton to London recently, shows that the Wootton – Portsmouth stretch (bus and ferry) is significantly slower than from Portsmouth – London (train). There is scope for improvement on the bus and ferry links, although the Ryde Pier minibuses (currently replacing the train) are very convenient.

 

In Scotland free bus travel is provided for teenager and parking is restricted in town/city centres. These policies could be beneficial if applied in England, although parking restrictions may not be favoured by the present IW Council. A petition for free travel for young people is available to sign online. A shift from car to public transport travel could help reduce traffic queuing on Wootton High Street.

 

DJ proposed an additional clause to the IWBRUG Constitution.

 

3. to support and encourage the key role that public transport plays in the reduction of the UK’s carbon footprint and the provision of an attractive and economic alternative to the use of private cars to reduce the environmental impact of transport.

 

(Renumber existing items 3 & 4 to become 4 & 5)

 

 

This was passed unanimously in a vote.

 

 

 

  1. Members questions

 

Don Vincent (DV) reported that a number of footpath crossings of the Island Line have been closed for 4 months recently, including SS63 near Skew Bridge, Lake. Although these have now been reopened, pedestrians were significantly inconvenienced. These closures were due to possible driver visibility issues concerning the new trains. Brading station foot crossing may also have visibility issues.

 

Members reported instances of out-of-date bus diversion notices remaining in place at stops. DJ suggested that members should report these cases, possibly with pictures, to SG for raising with Southern Vectis managers. This idea was agreed in principle.

 

DV reported the passing of Bill Ackroyd, Chairman of the IW Bus and Coach Museum. Bill undertook the fundraising activities and organised repair work to the former bus garage at Ryde for its new role as the museum. His best-known work has been the organisation of the annual “Beer and Buses” events in conjunction with CAMRA which attracted many visitors and owners of vintage buses to the Island. Before moving to the Island and living at Ventnor, Bill was a driving instructor at the London Bus Museum at Cobham, Surrey.

 

 

 

Meeting closed 12:20.

 

Next meeting 11:15 on 25th September at the Methodist Church Hall, Newport.