6 Sep 2011

"Volunteers" to drive buses on Isle of Wight

A trade union has criticised a scheme allowing volunteers to drive buses on rural routes on the Isle of Wight. The Wight Bus service had been due to end in August following cuts by the Conservative-led authority.
The new Heron Line, which has been set up with some council financial support, is expected to have a team of 60 volunteer drivers on nine routes. An RMT union spokesman said there had been little consultation and called the scheme "very, very worrying".
Regional organiser Peter Skelly said there had been insufficient consultation with the unions over issues such insurance cover in the event of an accident and where the revenue from the service would be going to. He added: "Bus companies up and down the country will be watching this to see what they can get away with. The only solution to this kind of problem is a publicly owned, publicly funded national bus corporation."
Island bus firm Southern Vectis has provided eight vehicles, fuel, maintenance, insurance and training for volunteer drivers. The council aimed to save £280,000 by stopping the Wight Bus services as part of its budget cuts.

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