There has been growing concern over escalating costs and the management of the Douglas Prom refurbishment. In the meantime, roads in Ayre & Michael (with the exception of the Mountain Course) and other parts of the Island suffer from neglect. If elected I will demand increased scrutiny of such major capital projects and seek greater local input to decisions on annual road maintenance.
Rural bus services have been subject to poor planning and decision making—and even poorer communications with bus users. Time should have been taken to discuss the needs for public service transport around our villages with local taxi firms. Subsidising them to provide essential services may have been more cost effective than Bus Vannin. On the main routes, better connections for Ballaugh and Kirk Michael to Douglas, Peel and Ramsey would be good (especially after evening events). A review early in the new administration will be welcome and again, if elected, that is something I will be demanding. Consideration should be given to Bus Vannin becoming a separate agency. It will need to become leaner and fitter in future. Fleet changes seem to happen far too often. The next time we do need new buses, they should be electric.
The way Eric Corkish’s campaign for mobility scooter access on our buses has been handled has, quite frankly, been a disgrace. Heads should be hung in shame. People with disabilities deserve better than that. The wheels have been coming off the bus at the Department of Infrastructure recently. It’s time for a change of tyre, at least.
Of course, other transport options exist and I will campaign for an integrated strategy for the Island that takes into account our changing needs for active travel arrangements and the impact of climate change measures. Continuing to re-vamp the former Northern Railway line from Kirk Michael through to Ramsey, for cyclists and other users will be an asset. Our railway and horse tram services are by and large visitor attractions, rather than efficient transport links, and should be viewed in that light.
I also recognise that many people will still choose the convenience of their own car, but we should encourage people to switch to electric vehicles as soon as possible, and consider using the bus as an alternative, whenever practical. Future changes to vehicle licence fees must be seen to be fair to all owners and any major changes to duty for different categories of vehicle need to be introduced gradually, with an option to pay monthly.