Bus Vannin is continuing its roll out of Dial-a-Ride services despite it still being under investigation for existing services.
DoI Minister Tim Baker was asked by Chris Thomas when and how the Dial a Ride Connect trial service was licensed; when the trial was concluded; and what plans he has to extend this service to the west of the island following a) the trial findings and b) the investigation by the Office of Fair Trading into whether Bus Vannin has been or is pursuing a course of conduct which amounts to an anti-competitive practice?
The Connect Villages trial in the North of the island started in December 2018. It was licensed by the Road Transport Licensing Committee to trial the Connect Villages service in the North of the island was issued for an initial period of 12 months.
Mr Baker said: ‘As the service was proving to be successful with a small increase in patronage and reduced operating costs, an application for a permanent licence was submitted to the Road Transport Licensing Committee in July 2019.
‘In reviewing the remaining island’s services with budget challenges and the need to maintain social inclusion, two further areas are subject to applications for demand responsive rural transport. These are in the corridor south of Patrick to Niarbyl and in the Ballamodha and St Marks area. These Demand Responsive Rural Transport services will all be operated on a nodal basis so that passengers are transported to the most suitable location for onward connection to the island’s main bus routes.
‘The department has submitted evidence to the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading but has not been advised of any outcome. It remains of the view that Bus Vannin’s conduct has not been anti-competitive and that demand responsive rural transport services are the best way to provide social inclusion where timetabled services cannot be justified.’
Chairman of the OFT, Martyn Perkins MHK, was also asked by Mr Thomas when he expects to be able to deliver the report, which has been delayed because of Covid, to the Council of Ministers.
Mr Perkins said: ‘If the timeline in the Project Initiation Document was adjusted taking into account the aforesaid delays, the report would be submitted to the Council of Ministers in September 2021, however, the OFT will obviously be trying to expedite the investigation.’