SOUTHERN Vectis's wish list of 116 proposed service network improvements will be discussed at tonight's Isle of Wight Council cabinet meeting.

More bus lanes, reduced journey times and cheaper fares are among the ambitions - but the idea of a bus lane running all the way round Coppins Bridge has already had cold water poured over it.

A new partnership between the Isle of Wight Council and Southern Vectis is trying to bid for a slice of £3 billion of government 'Bus Back Better' funding.

The two bodies have created a 'Bus Service Improvement Plan' (BSIP) for the Island in a 'once in a generation opportunity' and it is this plan which will go before cabinet.

The council agreed to form an enhanced partnership earlier this year and have since had talks with the bus operators and other travel bodies in the wider region to discuss the plans, ultimately drawing up a list of ambitions, commitments and targets.

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Southern Vectis created a list of 116 proposed service network improvements which it viewed would help the overall bus service.

They included fixing poor quality bus shelters, adding more stops to Newport Bus Station which is currently at capacity and creating physical priority for buses on the Island's roads, by bus lanes, proposing a 'Fairlee Bus Transit Route' using the former railway lines to stop buses getting stuck in traffic on Fairlee Road and one all the way around Coppins Bridge.

Agreeing with the bus operators, who are part of the wider Go South Coast organisation, the council has included some of its points in the BSIP, which sets out the 'high-level vision' and key interventions to offer passengers a better service.

Altogether there are 36 targets in the BSIP, addressing some of the service's weaknesses, including:

  • Reducing average bus journey times by five to ten per cent by 2025
  • Introduce a bus priority scheme around the Island by 2040
  • Work on the perceived lack of value for money
  • Improving the reliability of services with 90 per cent of buses running on time
  • Increase the frequency of buses in rural areas to encourage 25 per cent more bus journeys from rural locations by 2040
  • Double the number of tourists travelling on buses, from 11 per cent in 2017 to 20 per cent in 2040.

An ambition of the BSIP is to modernise buses, focusing on charging points as WiFi connectivity is proving unreliable due to the network reception in various parts of the Island, and decarbonise the fleet.

The Isle of Wight Council's cabinet is being asked to approve the BSIP before it is submitted to government by the end of October.