An MHK has been left feeling ‘disappointed’ after the infrastructure minister said there would be no public consultation on the island’s buses.
He said after the sitting: ‘I was disappointed by the response and indeed surprised by the answer that there would be no public consultation going forward.
‘If a full review is eventually to be undertaken – which the minister seemed to indicate it would – then surely they need to know what the public thinks. The public is the reason for this service.
‘To state the blindly obvious, without the public there wouldn’t be a bus service and it’s supposed to be there for them, so surely you need a full consultation to understand what they want.
‘As I warned when the fare cap came in which has now been abandoned as a failure you don’t just need to engage with those who use the buses, but also those who don’t use the service.
‘If you are to grow the service you need to understand why people aren’t using it and what can be done to get more people on seats.
‘So very disappointing that it appears the wider publics views are not wanted or felt needed.’
After being asked if he would do a consultation, Mr Thomas said: ‘I undertake within organisational constraints to do a holistic review.
‘I don’t believe it’s appropriate at this stage to do a public consultation, however I am absolutely proud of the team who went round with every commissioner, talking to local people about what they felt suited their area.
‘That was more than we’d ever done before and we got excellent feedback from those. That holistic review will continue.’
The original question for the sitting was about the holistic review and when it would be undertaken, to which Mr Thomas explained the new timetable, which came into use on April 24, was prepared taking into account feedback from users.
‘Once essential preparation for the TT period has been completed, feedback received on the current operation will be assessed and used to examine options for amendments and any potential structural change that could be introduced for next year,’ he said.
Mr Ashford asked if the full timetable is being reviewed.
He has previously received feedback that the timetables already in place read like ‘a multicoloured display of madness’ and ‘you need a degree in science to understand some of it’.
People are also ‘put off’ by the length of time routes take, he added.
Mr Thomas said: ‘The presentation of the timetable can always be improved and that is under review.
‘The whole thing is under review. We’re going to need to be bold in transitioning our bus service.’
Meanwhile, the three-stop 60p fare has been withdrawn, and the minimum charge on our buses will be £1.10. It will come into effect from Monday (May 8).