The rising cost of school bus fares is set to generate £45,000 per year for the Department of Infrastructure (DoI).

This is according to the Minister for Infrastructure, Tim Crookall, who was asked about the increase during Tuesday’s House of Keys sitting.

From Wednesday, February 21, school children have had to pay 50p per journey to and from school, a 25% increase from the previous 40p fee.

The Government defended the decision, with a spokesperson saying the change had been made to ‘address operational pressures for running the heavily-subsidised schools service, which is part of a wider review of all fares for bus transportation’.

Asked why the fares had increased, Mr Crookall said: ‘The 50p fare was meant to be introduced in 2019, but this was delayed.

‘Standard child fares are generally half that of the adult fare, rounded up to the next 10 pence multiple. However, for the purpose of attending school, the school fair remains significantly subsidised.

‘Based on the 2022/23 school travel figures, the increased school bus fare is likely to bring in approximately £45,000 if patronage remains roughly the same as it is at the moment.

‘Overall, the spend on the buses is £10.7 million, with our income being £5.6 million. This means there is roughly a £5.1 million subsidy.’

Mr Crookall reassured that financial hardship is always considered when making the decision on price rises, and that not giving advance notice of the rise is something the DoI have to do to ‘avoid losing a fortune’ from parents topping up ‘Go School’ cards before the rise comes into effect.

MHK for Douglas East, Joney Faragher, enquired whether the price increase is part of the DoI’s plans to increase the use of public transport.

Mr Crookall replied: ‘During the Covid period the DoI reduced the price of bus fares to see if more people would use them, but this didn’t really work.

‘Going back further, the price of the bus fare went away and was made free, which did see an increase in the amount of people using them.

‘The bus service as a whole is being reviewed from April 2024, and that review will identify key objectives for the 2024 transport strategy for the Isle of Man.

‘Bus fares are also routinely reviewed, and they will continue to be reviewed over the remaining months of 2024.

‘Bus Vannin has seen a significant increase in its costs over recent years, and it has to increase its prices to ensure that the current level of service is sustainable over the next 12 months.’