Template:Infobox Bus transit

The Southern Vectis Omnibus Company Limited is the dominant bus operator on the Isle of Wight. It was purchased by the Go-Ahead Group in 2005 and is a part of the company's Go South Coast division. The firm employs 299 staff, with 105 single deck, double deck and open-top buses and coaches.[1] All operations use a central depot in Newport and a number of much smaller outstations located around the Island.

April 2006 saw a simplified network and timetable, a rebranding of the company and a new livery of two shades of green. Subsidised fares were introduced in line with Government reforms to encourage more people to use the buses. In May 2006, Southern Vectis reported a 16% rise in passengers from May 2005.[2]

The company runs 13 regular routes covering most of the island. School services are in place on designated routes run on a contract from the Isle of Wight Council,.[3] Timetables are updated twice a year, sometimes more often, with a winter and summer timetable. The summer timetable includes open-top tours to cater for tourists.


Main article: History of Southern Vectis
File:Southern Vectis NBC bus Bristol VR ECW ODL 657R and others in Ryde depot, Isle of Wight August 1979.jpg

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Southern Vectis began life as a company called Dodson & Campbell Ltd. in 1921.[4] In 1923, Dodson's became The Vectis Bus Company. The company had associations with Christopher Dodson, bus body builders in London. Therefore, all Vectis buses of the period had Dodson built bodies.

In 1929, the company was bought by Southern Railway, and became The Southern Vectis Omnibus Company Limited. The company was nationalised in 1948, and became part of the National Bus Company in 1969. Then in 1986 as a consequence of the Transport Act 1985 the business was privatised and purchased by its management with help from its employees, who formed Southern Vectis plc to buy the company.[5] Deregulation meant that other companies could register and run bus routes against previously nationalised bus companies; this was significant for Southern Vectis in two ways: the company which had a virtual monopoly on Island transport was exposed to competition from no less than five operators, and Southern Vectis itself expanded in 1987 with the creation of Badger Vectis in Poole, and Solent Blue Line in Southampton.[6] Blue Line used older Southern Vectis buses and second hand double deckers, to compete with the dominant Southampton Citybus on their most profitable routes.


From the start of deregulation, Southern Vectis was one of the most aggressive of the new bus operators, as can be seen from the company's restored monopoly of Isle of Wight services and the fact that their subsidiary Solent Blue Line, 23 years after its creation, now holds (as Bluestar) a powerful position within Southampton and Hampshire alongside what remains of City Bus in First Hampshire & Dorset.

The newly privatised Southern Vectis expanded its business into other areas on the Island too, the company bought a self-drive van hire firm, A.B. Wadhams (Rentals) Ltd., and also 2 Ford Granada taxis, which it ran from Cowes Pontoon.[7] The taxis both served as a new venture for the company, and a way to take on one of its then new competitors, Gange Taxis & Minicoaches, on their home turf. Taxibus services were also pioneered by Southern Vectis on the Island, where taxi firms were appointed to run rural routes which would otherwise not be served. However, Southern Vectis had relinquished its involvement in taxis all together by 1989.[8]

In late 2002 Southern Vectis introduced the first low-floor buses on the Isle of Wight; seven Plaxton President-bodied Volvo B7TLs and a single Plaxton Mini Pointer bodied Dennis Dart.,[9] followed in early 2005 with 14 TransBus Mini Pointer Darts and, in January 2007, an order for seven Mercedes-Benz Citaros to upgrade high-floor buses on route 9.[10]

File:Southern Vectis 863 TDL563K.jpg
The company made national news in 2003 with the launch of a pink punishment school bus nicknamed 'The Pink Peril' designed to take badly-behaved students to and from school.[11][12] The vehicle was the oldest in the fleet, an Iveco minibus fleet number 283. The scheme initially proved a success but was later scrapped.

In July 2005 Southern Vectis plc was acquired by the Go-Ahead bus and rail group. This acquisition brought with it both Southern Vectis and Hampshire subsidiary Solent Blue Line.[13] Southern Vectis' has been rebranded, though the name has remained, while Solent Blue Line was rebranded Bluestar. Since late 2005, Southern Vectis has shared its directors with mainland bus companies Bluestar, and Wilts & Dorset, as part of Go-Ahead's Go South Coast division.

One of the first changes under the new ownership was an amended network in April 2006, using Newport as its hub, with most other routes linking to it. Although resulting in the loss of some existing routes, like the Island Explorer, the change proved largely successful; within 18 months passenger numbers had increased by 45%, with a 14% growth in fare-paying customers.[13] This was one of the largest increases in the UK and has continued since.[14] Seventeen Scania OmniCity double-deckers arrived in July 2008 to replace older step entrance double-deck buses. Eleven more arrived in Easter 2009 making the entire standard "green" bus fleet low floor.

In October 2009, Southern Vectis launched a website promoting its own 'car scrappage' scheme, offering Island residents who agreed to scrap their cars a season ticket of up to 12 months. Southern Vectis announced five vehicles had been scrapped within the first fortnight and it had received around 6,000 enquiries.[15] So far, the scheme has seen 75 vehicles scrapped including a horsebox, with a claimed carbon saving of 145 tonnes per annum.[16]

In 1994, Southern Vectis plc became a shareholder of the Polish bus company Kaliskie Line Autobus, with 18.38% of the company's shares. In September 2010, this holding was sold to the majority shareholder, the City of Kalisz, for £127,840 (600,000 PLN).[17]

Dealings with CompetitionEdit


Southern Vectis was the National Bus Company subsidiary on the Isle of Wight before NBC's break-up and privatisation in 1986. It began, and remained, the dominant operator on the Island, only running up against what has been called "Token Competition".[18] Southern Vectis now faces virtually no competition following disbandment by the Isle of Wight Council of its Wightbus service, which previously ran on a number of largely uncompetitive routes.

Bus Services Edit

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As a result of deregulation in 1986, several competitors emerged, or increased an existing presence running routes competing with Southern Vectis. These included[4][19] Island Travel (aka Cooke's Coaches of Porchfield), Grand Hotel Tours, Seaview Services "Redlynx", Wiltax of Shanklin, Gange's Minicoaches and Moss Motor Tours.

Both Island Travel and Gange's Minicoaches, which established routes between Cowes and Ryde,[4] ceased running their bus services partially due to anti-competitive practices by Southern Vectis. These included Southern Vectis running their own vehicles immediately ahead of competitors' where routes coincided, a practise known as duplication.[4][20] These tactics were by no means temporary, in the case of Gange's Minicoaches, they continued up until the firm ceased running bus services two and a half years later.

Operators accused Southern Vectis of enlisting a "special squad" of drivers which went as far as laying in wait for a competitor to appear in the distance and immediately setting off in front to pick up whatever passengers were waiting at the next stop. The squad tasked with running ahead of Gange's Minicoaches was termed the "Gangebusters" by staff.[21]

Duplication tactics were seen again in 1991, Southern Vectis shadowed a county council contracted bus run by Norman Baker Taxis, and as a result the Council was forced to terminate the contract, or face being accused of wasting poll tax payers' money.[20]

Franchising Edit

Throughout the disputes caused by Southern Vectis, the company repeatedly insisted that its solution was "franchising" routes, stating that the company was the "market leader" in the practise.[20] In such a case, Southern Vectis would let another operator run one of their (usually less profitable) routes, in return for a share of the takings of the route.

Franchising was initially successful in Southern Vectis' mainland business, where the company franchised Solent Blue Line routes to Marchwood Motorways. However few found the offer tempting on the Island, as the influx of operators during this period was largely from those who wished to compete with Southern Vectis. Though, as it became clear to potential operators that competing with the newly independent Southern Vectis was a daunting and sometimes stressful task, operators began to approach the company looking to franchise.

Franchisees who took on routes from Southern Vectis included M-Travel, who took on the Newport Town Circular. The Traditional Bus Company & The Village Bus Company, who took on some of the open top routes including the Shanklin Pony. The last franchisee was The Alpha Group, which ran the Newport Town Circular after M-Travel's collapse. Since that time Southern Vectis have not franchised any routes to operators.

Refusal to allow access to bus stations Edit


In 1986, a newly privatised Southern Vectis inherited Newport Bus Station, the Island's main bus terminus as part of the deal. This caused numerous headaches for upstart competitors, who were refused access to what Southern Vectis considered their private land, but the public thought was the place all buses would be available from, regardless of which company they were operated by.


Southern Vectis' refusal to allow Gange's Minicoaches to use Newport bus station prompted an investigation in 1987 by the Office of Fair Trading.[4] The first time the deregulated bus industry had come under investigation from the OFT.[22] The OFT report, published in 1988, found Southern Vectis' behaviour to be anti-competitive, preventing smaller bus operators from establishing awareness and competing effectively.[23][24]

Southern Vectis was presented with an ultimatum following the report, either allow competitors to use the bus station, or face the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The company decided that the former was preferable, and instated a programme by which competitors could use their station. Southern Vectis' relatively small competitors would have to fulfil "reasonable terms" to use the station, but they have never been properly defined, and were subject to further complaints from competitors.[18]

The publication of this report meant that no bus company could keep competitors out of their bus stations, a result that resonated across Britain. On the Island Gange's Minicoaches was offered use of Stand F in Ryde bus station, and was also offered a stand in Newport bus station. However, Gange's did not find the charges set for either station agreeable, and continued to operate from the opposite side of Ryde bus station (part of the highway, so owned by the council) and the South Street bus stop in Newport, until their service was discontinued.

The current Newport bus station design includes a stand which is on the public highway, Stand F. This stand was utilised by Wightbus prior to ceasing their services, for all their services stopping at the station. In Ryde, Wightbus used Stand G. All other stands were utilised by Southern Vectis exclusively.

School bus services Edit

In 2008, (the now Go-Ahead Group run) Southern Vectis again practised duplication,[25] this time running parallel to the Isle of Wight Council's Wightbus school services. These buses did the same job as the Wightbus services and ran at the same time, and Southern Vectis could still claim term ticket fees for the students getting onto their ghost services from the Council. Southern Vectis claimed to have contractual issues with the Council and wanted the contract to be "reworked" entirely.[25]

From the start of the school term in September 2010, the vast majority of school buses are run by Southern Vectis under contract from the Isle of Wight Council. This was awarded as a closed contract for the whole school lift, meaning the general public can no longer use the services. The result of this is that Wightbus no longer run any school routes, except for a handful of services for disabled children, leaving the council's bus and coach fleet largely redundant, along with many of the company's drivers. A knock on effect of this shift is that several Wightbus routes, including the St Lawrence-Shanklin Rail link have been discontinued. The Isle of Wight Council has indicated that it intends to shut down Wightbus in August 2011.[26]

Private hire Edit

The market for Private Hire buses and Coaches is more competitive than that of bus services on the Island, though Southern Vectis still holds a powerful position, with the ability to publicise Private Hire onboard its buses, and at one point putting 4 near-identical advertisements into a telephone directory for its four different coach brands. Operators that Southern Vectis competes against for private hire coaches include The Alpha Group, Gange's Coaches, and Kardan Travel, among others.

Current operationsEdit

Standard servicesEdit

Main article: List of Southern Vectis bus routes

Southern Vectis operates 15 standard bus services,[27] the most frequent being route 1, running every 7–8 minutes.[28] The most recent timetable came into operation on 4 September 2011.

Night BusesEdit

Night buses run on five routes on Friday and Saturday nights:[5]

Previously—30 September 2007 to 20 April 2008—buses ran 24-hour services all week to most island towns for the first time ever. This was a development project with a view to making them commercially viable but, with worries over the subsidies fares scheme, Southern Vectis decided they could no longer afford to operate these extra services.

Prior to the 24-hours services, night buses carried an 'N' prefix on each route number to show it was a night bus service, for example N1. This practice was not continued after the withdrawal of 24-hours services. Routes 8 and 38 also had a night service before the 24-hours scheme.

Open-top busesEdit

File:Southern Vectis 642 K742 ODL.JPG
Main article: Island Breezers

Southern Vectis run three open-top routes during the summer,[29] usually from early April until September/October. All of the routes are circular, operating in one direction. Designed to serve tourist attractions, each route (apart from the Shanklin Steamer) is operated under the "Island Breezers" brand, introduced in 2007 with orange and blue livery, replacing the orange and yellow "Open Top Tours" branding.

Open-top tours operated by the company include

  • The Needles Breezer
  • The Downs Breezer
  • The Shanklin Steamer

As of April 2009, these tourist focussed services became ineligible for the Over 60's free bus scheme.[30] The Sandown Bay Breezer did not return for the 2012 season.

Shanklin SteamerEdit

During 2011, due to the aftermath of the council cuts it was announced the road trains were to be scrapped, talks between the Isle of Wight Council & Southern Vectis to start up a bus service based on the former Shanklin Road Train route was discussed. Thus the "Shanklin Steamer" was introduced the route covers such tourist destinations as Old Village, Shanklin Esplanade, Shanklin Chine & Railway Station. It is operated by a specially converted single deck bus.

Island CoasterEdit

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The summer "Island Coaster" service introduced in 2007 runs between Ryde and Alum Bay, with two journeys each way, aimed at tourists. To avoid residents using it for local journeys,Template:Citation needed local fares are not available on this service. Passengers are recommended to buy the company's £10 all-day ticket,[31] although the longer-period versions preferred by residents are also valid.[32] From 15 March 2009, along with other seasonal Island Breezer routes, no concessions were available on the route.[30] The Island Coaster follows the route of 2 former services, the 12 from Ryde to Sandown and the 7/7A from Sandown to Alum Bay.

The route serves attractions such as Freshwater Bay and Blackgang Chine, linking them with Ventnor, Shanklin, Sandown and Ryde. To get between Blackgang Chine and Brook near Brighstone, the service uses the Military Road. Prior to the network revision in spring 2006, services had operated on this road under the Island Explorer name. As the new route was not introduced until summer 2007, there was no service along the road in the summer of 2006.

The 2008 service began on the 15 March, ahead of the main timetable change, with a number of amendments. The route number of "X40" was dropped (although still displayed on buses), leaving the service only with a name, similar to the open top tours, and the route no longer serves Bembridge Coast Hotel or Sandown Esplanade. The service was suspended for the winter at the end of 2 November, later than the previous year.

For the 2009 season the system of two departures within 30 minutes, matching the perceived flow of traffic to/from West Wight, is replaced. There is just one morning and one afternoon journey each way, one of which terminates or starts in Shanklin rather than Ryde. Most journeys on the route are extended from Freshwater Bay to Yarmouth, although some no longer serve Alum Bay.[33][34] Another change for 2009 is the introduction of coaches for the route, instead of using regular buses.[35]

Former operationsEdit

Road TrainsEdit

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Up until September 2009, three road trains were run along the seafront of three island towns, Ryde, Shanklin and Sandown, designed specifically to enable tourists to easily get to various points along the beach. The services were run by the Isle of Wight Council and contracted out to Southern Vectis. However, in April 2010 it was announced that the vehicles would be retired due to increased costs in maintenance due to their old age, they have subsequently been advertised as "Redundant Vehicles" by the Isle of Wight Council.

For the 2010 season, the Sandown road train was withdrawn and used only as a spare. September 25, 2010 was the last day for the Ryde roadtrain and the Shanklin roadtrain will operate until the end of October 2010. For the 2011 tourist season, talks are being held between the Council and Southern Vectis about replacement themed vehicle operations to be operated on a fully commercial basis.[36] Decisions on what would replace the road trains are still in development but are likely to be something bus-based. The idea of a charabanc service has also been brought up.[37] The axing of the routes by the Isle of Wight Council has been subject to criticism, recently by Shanklin Town Councillor Chris Quirk who said the move was 'unnecessary'.[38][39] In January 2011 the Dotto Trains were sold to a Welsh bidder in Llandudno who has plans to lease them back to anyone wanting to run a service on the island.

As of April 2011, the former Shanklin roadtrain route has now replaced with a bus route called "The Shanklin Steamer" using 625 from the bus fleet for the route after having a conversion. Due to 625 not being ready when the route commenced, surplus buses were used until its completion.

The routes the roadtrains used to take are as follows.[40]

  • Ryde: Linking the Esplanade with the beaches at Appley and Puckpool.
  • Shanklin: Linking the Esplanade with Queens Road, The Old Village, Town Centre and Railway Station.
  • Sandown: Linking the Pier and Esplanade with Dinosaur Isle, Isle of Wight Zoo, and the beach at Yaverland.

Coach UnitEdit

File:Southern Vectis coaches at Bustival 2010.JPG

Southern Vectis' involvement in coaching has varied through the years; early in the company's history the firm took no interest in coaching whatsoever, preferring to leave the field to other operators. However, the company became involved in coaching through acquisition and conglomeration.

Currently, the Southern Vectis coach unit is described by some as being at "arms-length";[41] its primary purpose has shifted over time, but is currently geared towards serving the Isle of Wight Council school contract, as can be seen from the school bus vinyls affixed to most of the coach fleet.

In contrast with the company's bus fleet, the coach unit is largely made up from older coaches acquired from Go South Coast's mainland operations, such as Tourist Coaches and Marchwood Motorways, where the mainland coaching units have received a significant number of new coaches,[42] many of their previous coaches have been transferred to the Southern Vectis fleet, and subsequently repainted.

In 2011, Southern Vectis purchased the name and coach assets of large former competitor Wightrollers, and added that to its other three fleet names, listed below.


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Currently, with the exception of the Island Coaster, Southern Vectis has no coaches carrying obvious Southern Vectis branding. In fact the current vast majority of coaches carry fleetnames of the better known Island coach firms which Southern Vectis has assimilated or acquired over its existence.

Each of the 4 "fleetnames", with distinctive liveries appear to the public to be independent coach operators. However drivers wear Southern Vectis uniforms and most vehicles carry Southern Vectis legal lettering, fleet numbers, vehicle names and in most cases 'Go-Ahead' stickers, which breaks this illusion. Notably in 2009, the first 3 below "company" names were registered at Companies House as their respective legal entities in Hertfordshire.[43][44][45] However the implications of this move are unclear.

The fleetnames used, with the exception of Island Coaster, are as follows.

  • "Fountain Coaches" Once a rival to Southern Vectis, Fountain Coaches was assimilated into the nationalised Southern Vectis when the National Bus Company rationalised in 1969.[46] Shamrock and Rambler, the mainland business which was previously in control of Fountain Coaches is where the firm obtained its livery of orange and cream.[47] The livery has changed and alternated over the many years Southern Vectis have used the fleetname. Now the fleetname has reappeared after the Go-Ahead takeover, these coaches are painted orange, white and brown.
  • "West Wight Bus & Coach Company" West Wight and four of its coaches were purchased by the privatised Southern Vectis in 1987, and briefly used as a fleetname alongside Southern Vectis & Fountain Coaches vehicles during this period. The firm had previously sold out its stage carriage/bus service business to Southern Vectis in 1952.[48] The name has also returned after the Go-Ahead takeover as a fleetname for coaches and some of Southern Vectis driver transport minibuses. West Wight's livery of grey and red has been reinterpreted by Southern Vectis as maroon and grey.
  • "Moss Motors" Another former competitor of Southern Vectis, Moss Motor Tours was a coach tours & bus operator on the Island between 1923 and 1994. In 1994 the name and "goodwill" of the company, but little else, was bought by then privatised Southern Vectis. However, the name has only been used as a fleetname by Southern Vectis coach unit since the Go-Ahead takeover. The name is used on a number of coaches, and several mostly blue double deckers. The livery used for the Southern Vectis Moss fleet varies, but is mostly based on the two tone blue used on Moss' classic coaches. In contrast to the actual Moss Motor Tours which was known for its pristine coach fleet, the Southern Vectis coaches that carry the Moss name are largely second hand.
  • "Wightrollers" In stark contrast to the three other former competitors to Southern Vectis listed above, Wightrollers is a recent acquisition. The firm was purchased by Go South Coast in 2011 after revealing that it was in financial difficulties. Southern Vectis has also taken on much of the staff from the firm, and its coaches now operate under Southern Vectis' control.

School ServicesEdit

The current primary purpose for the coach unit is the transport of children to school, and the unit has seen rapid expansion after Southern Vectis won the vast majority of school contracts away from the Isle of Wight Council's own Wightbus service. Wightbus is proposed to shut down, partially as a result of this development.[26]

In September 2009 Southern Vectis ran these coaches on bus routes registered with the traffic commissioner, and placed dedicated school bus stops along these routes, however the company has since cancelled these registered services and now runs the coaches entirely under a contract tendered by the council. Southern Vectis uses its coach brands, in particular Moss Motors on its school bus services.

From September 2008, foreign students were due to be educated in bus queuing etiquette after complaints from residents about being 'pushed away' while trying to board the bus.[49] On 16 March 2008, a new school bus timetable came out with several new routes shadowing some of the Wightbus school routes, with some controversy.[25] However, these routes were axed for the following school bus timetable on 3 September 2008.

Other servicesEdit

The company takes part at events including the Isle of Wight Festival and the Bestival. Additional buses are brought to the island – usually fellow Go South Coast buses – for the extra visitors. During the Isle of Wight Festival, extra shuttle services are run from Lymington to Yarmouth Wightlink ferry terminal, from the Southampton to East Cowes Red Funnel ferry terminal, and from the Portsmouth to Fishborne and Portsmouth to Ryde Wightlink ferry terminal and Fastcat passenger boat terminal, with a buses meeting every crossing.[50]

An Open Top Christmas Lights Tour is run during December until early January every evening (excluding 24, 25 and 26 December). One of the company's 'Island Breezer' buses takes a route past the most illuminated houses. The route lasts for 2 hours and travels through Newport, Binstead, Brading, Newchurch and Godshill.[51] For the 2008 tour, a stop at the Old World Tea Rooms in Godshill was added for a complimentary mince pie and hot drink.[52]

The company ran the Sailbus during Cowes Week in 2009. Since the start of the service, it has been operated by Wightbus. However the lack of a sponsor for the 2009 event and the fact the Isle of Wight Council no longer run the Northwood House car park and receive no income from it, caused the council to reach agreement with Southern Vectis to run the service with a £1 a journey fare.[53] However as the service had always been free in the past, few people were willing to start paying for the service. It was proposed that parking charges for Northwood House be increased during Cowes Week to help with running costs of the service however trustees of the house disagreed and the service did not run in 2010.[54]

Figures Edit

Southern Vectis Figures, from Go-Ahead[55]

  • Passenger journeys – 8m
  • Passenger vehicle km travelled – 5.92m
  • Total vehicle km travelled – 6.98m
  • Per cent of low-floor buses – 46%
  • Size of bus fleet – 105

Average age of fleet (years):

  • Southern Vectis – 11.6
  • Government industry target (max) – 8.0

VOSA PSV vehicle pass rate test:

  • Southern Vectis – 88%
  • National average – 86.5%

Scheduled km operated buses:

  • Southern Vectis – 99.62%
  • Industry target – 99.50%


During 1989-2002, Southern Vectis released a series of summer timetables, one per year with pictorial covers. Usually these featured a Rupert Besley cartoon of an Island location and featured a Southern Vectis bus.[56] The winter timetable booklet was normally less unusual, featuring a photograph of a bus on the cover. Other timetables released include plain covers.

Prior to 2006, Southern Vectis' timetable booklets showed their own buses, Island Line train services, ferry times, connecting mainland trains and complementary, non-competing routes offered by other bus operators, mainly Wightbus. These booklets were titled "Getting Around the Isle of Wight". However, when Southern Vectis introduced their revised network in 2006, all third-party timetables were removed. The Isle of Wight Council began producing The Isle of Wight Public Transport Handbook which provided a new impartial source for this information, though this stopped being produced after Southern Vectis included the Wightbus timetables in their September 2010 timetable book.

In addition to timetables for the Isle of Wight, Southern Vectis previously produced the Great Britain Bus Timetable. However, this ceased publication with the increasing availability of bus times on the internet.

The summer timetable normally consists of seasonal services such as the Island Coaster, the Island Breezers open top tours and the Road Trains, so aren't shown in the table below, although the Medina Tour was withdrawn permanently after the 2009 season. Southern Vectis have previously charged for timetables, normally 50p, however since 1 October 2006, they were given away free in an attempt to increase awareness of bus times to potential passengers. Bus timetables are delivered to 97% of homes across the island. Timetables produced after the new network were given the title "Island Hopping", however from the 20 December 2009 this title was dropped with the timetable now titled simply as "Bus times for the Isle of Wight".

In June 2001, timetables appeared online. After the network change in April 2006 a timetable was added to each bus stop. With the new website in 2008, a text service was launched to allow passengers to find out when their next bus would be coming from bus stops across the island.[57]

The 2008 winter timetable onwards have been printed on recycled paper to increase Southern Vectis' environmental credentials.

Date started Date ended Cover photo Routes added Routes deleted
2 April 2006 30 September 2006 (originally to be 1st) Alum Bay and coastal path to The Needles New Network
1 October 2006 30 December 2006 Totland Bay 16, 15 19, 13, 24, 34, 35
1 January 2007 31 March 2007 Osborne House 20, 29 37
1 April 2007 29 September 2007 Freshwater Bay None 20
30 September 2007 15 March 2008 Newport Town Centre 23, 27, 28, 37 12, 30, 32
16 March 2008 19 April 2008 Black & White interim copy - None 35 15, 39, 21
20 April 2008 30 August 2008 Compton Beach, with couple walking None 23, 35, 37
31 August 2008 4 April 2009 The Needles at sunset None 27, 28, 29
5 April 2009 29 August 2009 Horses outside Carisbrooke Castle None None
30 August 2009 19 December 2009 Bembridge lifeboat station from St Helens None 22
20 December 2009 17 April 2010 The Downs from Rowlands Lane None 10, 11, 14, 16
18 April 2010 4 September 2010 Blackgang Chine with bus 1117 37, X10, X11 None
5 September 2010 8 January 2011 Sandown beach 12, 25 None
9 January 2011 16 April 2011 Chale Bay from Blackgang Chine None None
17 April 2011 3 September 2011 Yaverland Beach 21 None
4 September 2011 22 October 2011 Racecourse Roundabout with bus 1111 22, 23, 24, 32, 33, 34, 35, 39 None
23 October 2011 30 March 2012 Merstone Cross with bus 1105 None 21

As well as this, routes are altered, changing the route the service takes or to increase frequency.[58]

Fares & SubsidiesEdit

Southern Vectis has been found to increase fares more strongly than the industry average, blamed by industry observers on the firms incredibly strong market position and lack of effective competition,[18] however the company claims fare rises are done in line with inflation to represent the increase in costs of running bus services, and cites the Island's high population of elderly residents (whose travel is free) as a factor in the high fare costs.[59] The company runs a fares review at the turn of each year, the latest occurred at the start of February 2009 with the lowest price single fare, from one bus stop to the next, rose from £2 to £2.50. Additionally the highest single fare rose from £4, to £4.50. Return fares are not available on most Southern Vectis services.

At each fare rise Rover and Freedom tickets are usually frozen, however these are already priced comparatively high as opposed to the firms sister companies; for example a one day 'Rover' ticket on Southern Vectis costs £10,[60] whereas a 'Solent day rider' for the entirety of the Bluestar network in Hampshire costs just £6.20, and an 'Explorer' pass that encompasses the entirety of the Bluestar and Wilts & Dorset networks is £7.50.[61]

With the new network from April 2006, Southern Vectis amended many of their fares. Notably, the maximum single fare was capped at £4. This has remained in place despite general fare rises since.

Student RiderEdit

File:Southern Vectis ticket.jpg
File:Student Rider demonstration in Newport 2.jpg

Students under 19, in full time education on the Isle of Wight, received discounted fares under the Isle of Wight Council's Student Rider scheme. The scheme initially offered any single journey for 50p.[62] The popularity of the scheme led to sometimes steep increases in the Student Rider fare, from 50p to £1 in 2008[63] and then again up to £1.20 in 2010.[64]

Discontinuation & Half fare extensionEdit

In July 2010 after cuts in funding from central government to local authorities nationwide, it was recommended that the scheme should be scrapped. Protests were launched on the day of the meeting with over 100 students demonstrating outside County Hall. Despite this, the council still voted to axe the scheme from September. As of 1 September 2010, Student Rider passes no longer work. In response to the discontinuation, Southern Vectis raised the age at which half fares could be obtained to 18, the firm had previously maintained the pre-1948 school leavers age of 14 as its limit. Young people will have to provide photo ID to prove they are 18 or under, which for many means bringing their passport on board the bus, however Southern Vectis recommends that young people get a Citizencard to prove their age, and has hinted that it may provide a card of its own.[65]

OAP Bus PassEdit

Island residents over 60 or with a disability can travel free in the council area at any time of day, under the Government's England-wide scheme. The subsidised fares resulted in a significant rise in passengers, which led to increased services and drivers. During the first year of the scheme in operation, around 2.1 million journeys were made. From 1 April 2008, bus passes are issued England-wide, meaning holders can travel the country free. This was estimated to increase free journeys to 3.8 million from April 2008 to March 2009. Concessionary travel now makes up just under half of all journeys made on Southern Vectis buses.[14] Southern Vectis have made improvements in preparation; for example in 2008 the Needles tour had an extra bus rostered to avoid possible overcrowding.

Threats of cutsEdit

Subsidised fares have continually been put under threat since their introduction, particularly the Student Rider scheme, as the Isle of Wight Council had no legal obligation to fund it. Similarly, unlimited free travel for pensioners has been put under threat on several occasions as the Council continues to experience a shortfall in funding and other financial pressures caused by the recession.[66] Most recently the Council stated that from April 2010 it was uncertain about whether it could continue.[67] Later in November it was confirmed free travel would be restricted to off-peak times only.[68]

On the 16 November 2007, the Isle of Wight Council proposed to cut the 76 per cent it pays for each concessionary fare down to 48 per cent. It said that if the current rate continued in 2008-09, the company would be making a huge profit. However Southern Vectis said it would leave them out of pocket by more than £1 million, and normal passenger fares could have to rise as much as 54 per cent.[69] The cut was agreed by the Isle of Wight Council in November 2007[70] and, as a result of this, further rises to fares took place from 1 April 2008.[71] The cost of concessionary travel in 2007 was £3 million; it was expected to rise to £5 million in 2008.

As a result, Southern Vectis announced that from the new timetables on 17 March 2008 almost all evening, Sunday and night buses would be axed, and some routes changed.[72][73] More details about the service cuts emerged soon after.[74] While night buses were cut, there have not been the level of reductions initially implied.

Another consequence was the withdrawal of routes 27, 28 and 29 from 1 September 2008. Originally run under tender to the council, when the over-60s bus pass scheme was introduced, more passengers were carried and Southern Vectis agreed to run them commercially. However, since the cut in subsidy, the services became unviable. The council is providing replacement services with Wightbus routes 29, 30, 32 and 33.[75]

In November 2008, Southern Vectis threatened that should the Council cut the concessionary fares reimbursement rate in 2009, it would withdraw from the Student Rider scheme. The company is already appealing to the Secretary of State against the original reduction from 76 per cent to 48.05 per cent of each concessionary fare. Southern Vectis stated that they will not continue to voluntarily participate, although the council can serve a compulsory notice for it to do so.[76]

In 2009 the amount the Isle of Wight Council pays Southern Vectis was again reduced. The effect of this resulted in a reduction in the frequency of routes 4 and 5, some journeys removed from route 6, routes 14 and 16 combining and route 22 being withdrawn.[77] This caused further problems as, with the additional running costs staff received no increase in pay for 2009, resulting in strike action on three days in September.[78] Later cuts are being planned by reducing the frequency of route 9, amalgamating route 10 into route 8 and withdrawing route 11.[79]

Due to the large shortfall in funding to support the scheme, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised a review into the way funding was distributed by the end of the financial year of 2009. Previously, the government had indicated the earliest review would be in two years time.[80] This later resulted in a promise of increased payments to support the scheme of around £890,000 for 2010. However, this will still leave a large shortfall and still remains unclear about how much of this funding will actually be passed onto Southern Vectis.[81]


XEPHOS, a computerised journey system that Southern Vectis developed, won a national award for technical development at the Bus Industry Awards at the London Hilton. The system is the only service that can provide customers with downloadable and printable timetables for the 12,500 services in its database and offers local and national information on thousands of journeys across the UK. It enables customers to look up any of 70,000 places available in the UK and gives a list of all public transport there, or a list and distance to the nearest services.[82]

In July 2007, a poetry project, involving the printing of poems on buses and engraved poems on plaques at bus stops won the community award at the 2007 Arts and Business Awards.

Southern Vectis was shortlisted for an award in the mid-size UK bus operator of the Year category at the Route One Operator Excellence Awards held at the National Motorcycle Museum.[83]

Southern Vectis was 'Highly Commended' in the Royal Bank of Scotland's Green Business Award, however lost out on winning to AJ Wells and Sons.[84]


File:Southern Vectis 1101 HW08 AOP 3.JPG
Main article: Southern Vectis bus fleet

The company has a total bus fleet of 105 vehicles. Much of the fleet is in either the new two-tone green livery or the older 2005 green livery, although exceptions to this include 'Island Breezer' open top buses and the coach fleet. As of April 2009 with the purchase of 28 Scania OmniCity double deck buses the entire regular "green bus" service fleet is low floor. Single deck buses operated include 17 Dennis Dart/Plaxton Pointer MPDs and 2 Mercedes-Benz Citaros. Double deck buses they own include seven Volvo B7TL/Plaxton Presidents and 28 Scania OmniCitys. The company's coaching fleet is now mostly made up of vehicles acquired from fellow Go South Coast subsidiaries and even from Go-Ahead group member Go North East. These are primarily used for transporting students to and from school, and the coach fleet is expanding as more school services are converted to seat belted coaches.[85][86]

Names Edit

File:Southern Vectis 864 TDL 564K 4.JPG
File:Southern Vectis 602 2.JPG

Since the new network and corresponding livery, names have been applied to most of the buses in the fleet. Before this, only two buses in the fleet had received names. Those were CDL 899 (currently fleet number 602) "The Old Girl"[87] and TDL 564K (fleet number 864 before being sold) "Shanklin's Pony".[88] The name of "The Old Girl" is now official, and has been applied to the bus.

The vehicles concerned do not necessarily run to, or near, the places they are named after. Good examples are fleet numbers 639 & 641, named 'Steephill Cove' and 'Ventnor Cove' respectively; they are open-top buses, and there is no open top bus route that goes within 4 miles of either of those locations. Neither are the names completely unique, as while no bus carries exactly the same name as another, fleet number 740 is named 'Ventnor Bay', the same piece of water as 'Ventnor Cove'. Names are repeated as older vehicles are withdrawn from the fleet and newer vehicles added. For example, fleet number 900 was named 'Cowleaze Chine'.[89] Fleet number 1109 was named 'Cowleaze Chine'[90] when it came into service in November 2008.

Livery Edit

From 2005, new Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer single-deck buses arrived in a precursor to the current livery, with many copies of the previous company logo disintegrating into a standard green towards the rear of the bus, these buses still run, most likely as the livery is deemed similar enough to the new one.

Since April 2006, most buses have been painted with a new livery of two shades of green. It also consists of a newly designed logo and the new slogan "the island's buses".[91] The company's 7 B7TLs in the fleet were the first to be re-sprayed to this, all from the old Island Explorer livery which they were delivered in 2002. Prior to full completion of the new two-tone livery, the B7TLs were temporarily used for services with just a lime green livery.[92] There are some exceptions to this new livery. The open-top tours have a blue and orange livery, with "Island Breezers" branding. Coaches and driver training vehicles also carry a number of different liveries.

See also Edit

References Edit

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Further readingEdit

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External links Edit

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