Monday 11 June 2012

The Vicissitudes of Visiting Ventnor [3]

Definitely Driving Downhill : in more ways than one!
With one slight exception, every approach to Ventnor involves steep downhill routes; try, for example, the aptly named Zigzag Road!
But public transport facilities have definitely gone down hill. Where one was a bus station ...
... is a block of flats with one lone bus stop on the main road. The only information available is a departure list with no timetables or even a map.
Where once was a depot with a useful enquiry office is now an unsold and disused building.
So what is left of the previous selection of services?
The two remaining Southern Vectis routes are the 3 ...
... which runs from Ryde via Shanklin and Cowleaze to Ventnor, continuing via Wroxall and Godshill to Newport and offering a 30 minute frequency. To be fair the Ventnor to Newport section (formerly 17 etc) was traditionally only hourly so this does represent an improvement.
But, indicative of changing travel patterns and the rise of the all-conquering motor car, the Shanklin to Ventnor section was once as frequent as every 15 minutes in the Summer and through to Blackgang (once the major tourist attraction) as well.

Service 6 runs every hour to Newport via Blackgang ...
... with alternate journeys entering Ventnor by different routes. Other villages once provided by 19/A/B/C variants not longer have a bus service.
And that's it. A local "town" route 31 remains, operated as a sort of community bus project that was free but is now £1 per journey ...
... but its stop has a proper timetable ...
... and a much needed map; much needed indeed if you look at the route.
That's much better than Southern Vectis' decidedly unhelpful offer.

The once hourly magnificent scenic double deck route along the coast to Freshwater is reduced to one journey a day at a premium price; and by coach ...
... thus depriving all but the most determined (and wealthy) traveller of one of the best top-deck rides in Southern England.
Were you to be staying in Ventor, you might wish to obtain some timetable information; there is none at the stops.

The main newsagent on the High Street has a few books on his counter but there is no indication on stops that they are available at all. Of course you could ask in the Tourist Information Office; only there isn't one; it has been closed. Now the best you can have is just a window filled with arbitrary stuff.
And again, the toilets by the old bus station have been closed; and the toilets in the High Street Car Park have been closed. These essential buildings were replaced by a brand new block in Market Street Car Park half way between the two previous "facilities".
which has recently been closed. It is to be replaced by yet another block of flats. In fact you now have to abseil down to the Esplanade ...
... probably in absolute agony, and, at last ...
... Mafeking is relieved. fbb is awaiting confirmation of another secretly concealed "facility" nearer the town centre, but he couldn't find it on his recent visit.

But, joking apart (only it's most definitely NOT a joke!), it is sad to see tourist facilities, both informative and biological, withdrawn from such a potentially lovely town as Ventnor. The Island's council doesn't seem to grasp the simple fact that visitors won't come if they can't go; and they won't come if they can't know what there is to come to.

 Next Blog : Tuesday 12th June 


  1. I don't have a problem with timetable cases showing departure lists, rather than timetables as I personally think the list can be better. However, from the photo posted, the bus stop at the former bus station doesn't show the bus times at that specific stop, but at the previous timing points? Why else would it show times at Ronchurch Letter Box, York Rd and Albert St?

  2. A departure list is fine IF you know how long your journey will be; if you know the area; if you have a timetable (even an old one) and can estimate your time of arrival. It is inadequate for the occasional user and visitor who needs more guidance. "If I go, am I prepared to sit for XX minutes ..."
    Under ideal circumstances both should be displayed, but where space is limited, a highlighted page from a printed timetable is also a departure list.
    In answer to your point about times; computer systems seem to quail at anything with a loop. Terminating service 6 vehicles do so via the Ventnor one way system. Service 3s to Ryde also loop the loop. Service 3s to Newport only serve Albert Street on the loop.
    Of course, the sensible thing would be, as you say, to have a timet point at Albert Street (old bus station) for everything. But that's not ehat's on the computer!

  3. Why is the coach a premium price? Isn't it at regular fares?

    1. no. The island coaster is operated with special fares so people would not use it as a local service, as it is intended for tourists.